Just because someone else has an idea, doesn’t mean you didn’t have it, too. Or even that you didn’t have it first.
So, there I am waiting for a bus in southern Maryland. It’s winter and I’m freezing my ass off. No, that’s not right. I’m freezing my ears off. Yes, that’s more like it. My ass is actually well insulated and relatively warm. But my ears? They hurt.
If you’re from Alaska or Michigan or Chicago, you can skip ahead to the next section. If you’re from Florida or one of the gulf states, read on.
Anyway, I’m kind of a weather wimp. Dislike the cold for the most part, and as I’m standing in line, I think it would be a nice touch to have earmuffs on and be listening to music. Headphone earmuffs? I wondered if that was a thing. I shared it with my friend Gary. He liked idea, too. No, he’d never seen that type of a product either.
But that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. Fast forward to the same time the following year, and lo and behold, there on the store shelves, in different colors mind you, are earmuff headphones. Hey, That’s my idea. But apparently not a unique one.
I’ve had this happen to me a couple of times as I’ve written my book. For whatever reason, my opening scene was going to have a spaceship captain smoking a cigarette. The narrator would say something like, “Everyone one knows there’s no smoking in space,” or something along those lines. I thought it would be a unique idea. Then I’m watching the movie Lockout, and there, big as life is Guy Pearce smoking a damn cigarette. (&#*&O)@)! Hey, that’s my idea!
But I move on. Another unique aspect of my story is of a futuristic prison that doubles as a meat processing plant. Making license plates in the future just didn’t seem, ah…futuristic. So the character name I chose was Grinder. That seemed pretty unique. Weeks or months later, I’m watching Arnold in Sabotage and I stare open-mouthed at the screen as his back is covered by a guy named Grinder. Hey, that’s my idea. Again. And I’m not even going to mention the TV series.
My first thought was, that by the time my book is published, the reader might believe I swiped the name from the big, or small screen. Nice James. Original. But then I thought about it from a different angle. No, I’d had those ideas, and they would be mine. In my own unique way. Headphone earmuffs? That’s right, I bought some. Smoking in space. Yep. Turned that one on its head. And Grinder? I won’t spoil the story too much. Suffice to say his backstory is something more than grinding meat.
If you’re a creative writer, you’ll see connections to your ideas all the time. My advice? Don’t despair. Make it your own. In your own way. Hey, it’s your idea.