“A story about vampires? Oh Jon, come on! Everyone’s writing about vampires! Vampires suck!” my brother said to me.
“Actually they are writing about Zombies.” I said in a rather meek come back.
However, with my brother’s assessment of my future novel, he raised the specter of my Father’s Ghost. It’s a dumb idea, Jay is right, everything there is to say about vampires has been written. What could you possibly add to the genre?
Suddenly it was pointless to move forward with my novel. So, being this conversation happened in June of 2017, the opening pages of my novel, all 22,000 words, sat on my laptop, collecting electric dust, and I moved on to other projects, other ideas. Original Ideas. Because, well, you need to be Original right? Right?
Nothing is Original. Not really.
So, my Father’s Ghost won again. I shelved the story and went on to other projects. Yet I kept thinking about my vampire story. In my mind I was adding little details, dropping plotlines, adding others. Thinking on it the whole time I was working on ignoring it and being ‘original’. Yet, nothing is original. Not really. Most stories are based off of other stories. Even Dracula was based on a Balkan Legend and a popular story from Stoker’s time, The Vamprye.
Most of us believe a great story is original, but when asked, the Author often cites one or more sources as their inspiration. Either a story they had read, heard about, or one, recounted to them. Usually the story is a mishmash of previously known stories, with their own spin on it. Grimm’s Fairytales comes to mind. Shakespeare was well-known for taking popular legends and turning them into plays.
The concept of having to be original is, honestly, a little over the top. Yet, some storylines, genres, can beat the proverbial horse to death. Vampires have been mostly played out.
I accepted the fate of my novel, it would sit on the electronic shelf forever, never to be printed out and have me cuss over the editing process. The story was doomed.
Inspiration comes to you in the strangest ways.
My life has taken a few twists and turns since I had that conversation with my brother. I had written a few short stories, polished a couple of others, was in the market for Writing Competitions to get my name out. Yet I had to deal with a busy social year in 2017 and the discovery of my youngest daughters Autism.
During all this I changed jobs. Going from moving semi-tractor trailers in and out of docks for a Gum Factory, to doing the same at a Potato Chip factory.
I seem to be attracted to snacks companies.
And it was at my new job, that I saw something that gave me inspiration. Next to the Potato Chip factory is a Metal Work Shop. The shop causes some consternation with me and my colleagues. Huge metal plates, and small bits of metal litter the drive next to ours. Both plants share a common driveway. We have to be careful not to run over a metal scrap or drive into a huge steel beam. Yet the Metal Work Shop made me think…
“You know, if the zombie apocalypse happens, I would come here to outfit myself. You could make any sort of weapon out of this scrap metal.”
And of course there were potatoes to eat. And a nice National Guard Armory nearby. What a great place to hide out when the poop hits the rotating oscillator…
…or a great place for two child vampires to hang out.
You see, my story isn’t original. But it’s mine. It is my take on vampires. It may follow certain guidelines, certain rules of a storyline, but it’s mine. And that is where I vanquished my brother’s advice and my Father’s Ghost this time. Because while vampire stories have been played out. Glitter & Sparkles, Day-walkers, Assassins of Werewolves and even Diaries. No one has read mine. No one has seen what I have to offer. So, with a new angle, a fresh view, a great idea for a location, I wrote 4500 words of my tale last night. More to write tonight. And the next day, and the days to follow till I have the tale told.
Now, it may end up on the electronic bookshelf. It may die during the editing process, or suffer a worse fate. Sitting on the Cyber-Bookshelf without any takers.
But it will be done. I will have told my tale.
Because I have my story to tell, my version of vampires. Characters for you to explore, to laugh with, cry with, hate and love. It may revolve around vampires, but it will be the characters that drive the story.
While vampire tales are not original, my take will be ‘original’.
See, I let self-doubt and the fear of being lost in the crowd stop me from writing my novel. I was held back because I feared my brother was right, that my Father’s Ghost was right. But they weren’t.
Each of us, whether you are a published author, or a wannabe like myself, brings our own unique perspective to our tales. So, don’t be afraid to write what has already been written. Some of the best novels, best movies, even best t.v. shows are new versions of the same tired genre.
It’s not the lipstick on the pig that matters, it’s the shade of lipstick that matters.