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(Haven’t updated for a few months because I got busy with work and with writing.  At any rate….)

At the present, I’m reminded of something Neil Gaiman wrote in his introduction for Mark Millar’s The Good Fairies of New York. He commented about how he’d bought the book, but was afraid to read it.  Gaiman was writing American Gods — you know, old magic in the “New World” — and he was afraid Millar had touched on the same idea.   In short, Gaiman was afraid Millar had beaten him to the punch, so to speak.  In the end, he wrote his story anyway, and then hazarded a read of Millar’s, only to be relieved to discover how different they were.

As a relatively new and novice fiction writer, I really didn’t understand Gaiman’s anxiety until today.  But before I get there, let me explain something.  I’ve been on a Bermuda binge for nearly a year now.  And then, in the scope of my research (which, some nights, means a 40 ouncer of Hurricane Malt liquor and Google), I discovered something interesting: some Bermudians think Shakespeare wrote “The Tempest” about their island.  So, I got this idea in my head: rewrite The Tempest.  It seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.

The problem?  Rewriting Shakespeare is not terribly original.  Writers far better than me have been doing it for centuries, but I clung to the idea.  Surely, I thought, “The Tempest” hasn’t been turned into a horror story, yet?  So, I turned it over and over in my head, and then, against my will, I started writing the story about four days ago.  Presently, I’m about 4,000 words into it, with the idea that it’s either going to be 9-15k, all around.  I’m calling it “Caliban’s Tempest.”  So what’s my problem?

Well, today, I stopped by a used paperback store in Belmar, New Jersey.  I didn’t want to linger long, as I was hoping to score a very cheap Clive Barker short story collection.  I ended up with volume 3 of The Books of Blood.   Further about three feet away, I see the name “Caliban” glaring at me from a book spine.  I grabbed it.  Robert Devereaux. Leisure Books, 2002. For horror, that’s pretty damn public.  Shoulders slumped, I bought both and lumbered to my car, angry at this Devereaux guy, thinking that I had to pitch my story away.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I’ve skimmed it.  And, thankfully, it’s not the story I was planning to write.  Devereaux rewrote Shakespeare’s play from another prospective.  I’m actually writing a “Prequel” that happens many, many years before Prospero shows up and enslaves Caliban.   Oh, and my story has women that are naked and half-human squid monsters.

Still, if I’ve learned anything idea is ever truly original 100%.  This is why, when one has been bitten by the writing bug, it helps to live in an area with a couple of libraries and a couple of used book stores, where one can get cheap access to older titles.  And, one thing else,..: it’s probably a good idea to avoid doing what Neil Gaiman did.   He would have probably saved himself some anxiety if he just examined the book when he first saw it.  But then again, who am I to second guess Neil Gaiman?


One Comment

  1. Hi, Rich.

    You learned a great lesson & thanks for buying Caliban.

    Best of luck with your fiction!


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