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Friday, February 23, 2007

Nothing New Under the Sun

One of the bad things about being a starting writer is that it seems every idea you've come up with has been done by someone else, even when you thought of it before you heard about it. It's like an article by Asimov that I read once, when he answered a letter from a boy who believed he had come up with some sort of proof for a way of finding prime numbers, he was checking with Asimov for if everything looked kosher. The good-hearted sci-fi master looked at his work, complemented him on his ingenuity, his skill, his bright future in mathematics, then told him the same thing had been done by a Greek mathematician 2,000 years ago. I can't remember who wrote it, the archivist in my brain tells me it's author was O. Henry, but he's been known to tell a fib or two when the answer cannot be found, but there was a story called "Nothing New Under the Sun" (another potential lie), where an author believes he's created the single greatest story/article/thingy in the world, the most original idea, the most dynamic likable characters, the perfect setting, all of it mish-mashing perfectly together, only to find the same damn thing was written in the paper his fish was wrapped in. Then he kills himself, I think. Maybe it wasn't O. Henry. Any that's what I feel like these days, and even though I hate Hollywood, I do understand when people say it seems like all the ideas have been thought. Seems that way to me. In that case you've got two options, try your damnedest to break the cycle and come up with something no one has seen before, or try and remix the ideas that came before you into some new recipe. I'm certainly guilty of the latter these days.
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