~ Oscar Wilde
Yesterday, I was given an award by a fellow blogger, The Insomniac's Dream, on a night that she got almost no sleep, stayed up almost all night, wrote a post and called me a whore.
Or something like that.
She was writing the post in response to the fact that she'd received yet another award. In the blogosphere, these awards are basically exactly as she described them - opportunities to whore yourself out to other writers and readers, then whore out the other writers you like.
So then, logically, she invented a new award to hand out, and she gave one to me.
I have a backlog of about eight awards that I haven't addressed yet, and I will inevitably fail miserably at following all the rules for each award. I will, however, tell you who gave them to me, tell you that they are all wonderful people, and tell you that you should go check out their blogs because they are amazing.
No Natural Mama
Bear & Lion
Challenging Myself To Be Healthier
The Insomniac's Dream (of course)
As with all of these awards, there are rules and requirements, though this one is a bit different than the rest. No prying questions about my likes and dislikes, no random requests for information, none of that. Here are the rules.
1. Upon receiving this award, you will receive a prompt. You are to write about said prompt. (Whenever you feel like it)
2. Link back to who gave you this award and include the picture of the award in your post.
3. Pass it to just five bloggers. (You can tag back if you want to read what your presenter has to say about the topic you come up with.)
4. Come up with a prompt for the five bloggers you chose.
5. When you do finally get around to writing the prompt, let the blogger who presented you this award know. So they can read it.
The prompt she gave me is this: Original Ideas: Are There Any Anymore?
Here's my answer.
Considering that I've only ever met a few people who are anything like me in my entire lifetime, and those that I have met mostly reside on the internet and I haven't actually met them in person, I'm going to have to say yes.
Original ideas come from original people, and I tend to think I'm a square peg in a round holed world.
There are, of course, glaring similarities among most of the bloggers in the world, and for that matter, among most of the writers in the world.
We all want to be relevant. We all are doing what we do for some reason. We all want to make a genuine connection with our readers, however that happens.
We all learn from those who came before us, we all seem to feed off of each other's ideas and topics. Hopefully the borrowing is never too blatant or obvious, hopefully we take the general ideas and run with them, shape them and put them through our own filters sufficiently that they become ideas that are different and unique. Hopefully.
It doesn't always work out that way, of course, and what happens sometimes is that the borrowing becomes blatant. Sometimes it's glaringly obvious. Some people don't seem to mind taking what others created and claiming it as their own. I've had other writers do that with my stuff in the past, and it sucks. It really sucks.
What also sometimes happens is that a topic will arise that everyone seems compelled to write about, and suddenly the internet is flooded with a million posts that are all mostly the same, that don't contribute much individually in terms of uniqueness, but maybe speak more to the power of the bloggers in the world to make our collective voices heard. In those times, maybe it's not our individual uniqueness that matters, but the unique power of the medium. This tends to happen whenever there is some major tragedy, at least from what I have seen. After the school shooting in Connecticut last year, the internet was saturated with posts about loving our children and appreciating every moment. Nothing earth shattering or very original, true...but collectively, they do say a lot about our society's response to these events.
When people tell me they want to start writing, I always encourage them to write what they know. To be authentic. To tell the hard stories. To be relevant. To be real. Through the telling of our real stories and the sharing of our real experiences, we are unique and individual just by definition. No one else has lived my life, no one else has had this same set of challenges. No one else has the same set of interests I do.
I've been writing a good long time now, and I want to believe I have a unique voice. I don't know of other bloggers who write the legal analysis posts the way I do. I don't know anyone else who has a weekly series where they rant (except for those who've taken the idea from me). I have written and hosted guest posts, but I'm running a series now - aimed mostly at encouraging new writers to give it a shot, and giving established writers a chance to write about something they ordinarily wouldn't. I run photo challenges and write about rock music habitually. I'm hosting a summer book club this year for kids and parents to share together. I write about getting stuck in dressing rooms with mouthy kids one day, abortion the next, how grief sucks the next. My fans...my poor fans...they never really know what I'm going to throw at them.
I repel the idea of niches, apparently.
That all seems pretty unique, at least in that combination.
Ironically, where I feel the least unique is in my fiction writing. The genre where we are supposed to be free to invent anything is where I feel the most like an imitator. Fiction is a new genre to me, as I've always been a non-fiction writer. It makes me squirm. It makes me uncomfortable. I don't want to borrow from other writers and I diligently try to find my own unique voice. There's an argument to be made that all fiction is the same. We're all telling the same basic stories, just changing up details, locations, time and place. Maybe we are.
I suppose my answer is that yes there are original ideas, when they come from authentic people who aren't trying to ride anyone else's coattails.
Unless they're writing fiction. ;)
The five bloggers I am choosing to receive this award are:
1) The Insomniac's Dream (neener neener)
2) Grass Oil
3) The Momisodes
4) Modern Mama Dramas
5) Razorblade Brain
Your topic is:
Is there anything that would ever make you stop writing?
What would you do if someone tried to stop you?