After my last post, someone said to me – in a friendly way – that they were surprised to see me jumping on the dystopian bandwagon and wasn’t that kind of over already anyway?
Me being myself, my first thought was Hmm, I wonder what a dystopian bandwagon would look like? Would the wheels be falling off? What would they be made of? Where would it be going and would you need a ticket to ride?
Me still being myself, my second thought was Actually, where does that idiom come from, anyway? [For those interested, Theodore Roosevelt, apparently]
Finally, I laughed. Because the thing is – writing-wise, I’m completely incapable of jumping on any moving vehicle. On any moving anything, actually. Including, probably, snails.
If you are a regular reader of this not-at-all regular blog, you will know that I’ve written before about my fascination with ‘creative coincidences’, the way in which writers will sometimes alight upon the same idea at the same time for no apparent reason, or a rash of books with similar themes or settings will appear within a short space of time.
Those original posts were prompted by my then-recent discovery that a book covering ground similar to my junior novel Surface Tension had just come out in the US. As is the way of these things, I’ve more recently discovered that another book with the same setting – of a town ‘drowned’ to make way for a reservoir – came out late last year in Canada. I became aware of this while idly Googling the phrase “The Town That Drowned”, which was high on my list of possible titles for the US publication of Surface Tension, scheduled for later this year. Yes, that sound you hear is the gnashing of teeth. Yes, the title of the Canadian book, which looks absolutely gorgeous and has been shortlisted for a slew of awards, is The Town That Drowned. On a blog I read while surfing around gnashing my teeth, someone even commented that the ‘drowned town’ idea is ‘becoming something of a theme in Canadian literature’.
My friends, you cannot escape the zeitgeist.
Yesterday I wrote about creative ‘coincidences’, perhaps more aptly described as a certain kind of alignment. Anna Branford, author of the gorgeous Violet Mackerel books had an interesting take on this in the comments, in response to which I will simply nod my head and refer you there.
If you want to see a really interesting example of how this sort of thing might work, check out this Derren Brown experiment in subliminal communication. It’s fascinating stuff.
But to the point I was writing towards yesterday – Surface Tension and the oh no! moment. Here’s what happened.
Ever had this happen? You’re working on a project, or thinking about a project, or you’ve just sent something off to a publisher. And it’s so distinctive. It’s an idea that’s specific to you, emerging from your own personal history, and you’ve attached to it all the other little bits and pieces that accumulate during the writing process, bits and pieces which, again, are idiosyncratic, part of your own subjective experience.
And then all of a sudden you see something similar in Bookseller+Publisher, hey, I’m working on this thing and they look at you oddly and say but *I’m* working on that thing or oh, you mean like that book by suchandsuch.