The novel, Conscript’s Creed, that I’m writing with my daughter, Lindsay, has been quite an adventure. The idea for it hit us three years ago while we were in a Half-Price Books store waiting to have our books appraised. One of us (okay, I’ll take credit) said, “You know, we should write our own book.” Lindsay laughed but within a matter of minutes we’d come up with this amazing story and we couldn’t wait to go home and write it.
But, we didn’t. Well, we went home, we just didn’t write it. Instead we just talked about writing it…for an entire year. Our original idea was completely different from the one that eventually became known as Conscript’s Creed. I won’t share much about our original story because, who knows, we may still write it one day, but I’ll tell you it involved angels. The reason we ended up not writing it was that other angel books started to pop up left and right. So we shelved it and came up with great idea number two, The Healing Book (now The Healing Book Trilogy).
When we weren’t talking about writing The Healing Book, we were reading other people’s books. Good books, bad books, anything we could get our hands on. We read to the point that we finally woke up one day and said, “We can totally do this! Why aren’t we?”
We finally started putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard as the case may be, and the bones of our story began to come alive. That was two years ago. The evolution of our story has been very comical, and many times we wished we’d set up a camera and recorded those brainstorming moments. Back then our nefari were boneless blobs that sunk their fangs into it’s victim’s heart and invaded the human’s body. They survived for several months before the body rotted away, forcing the beast to look for it’s next host. Then I read the book, The Host. And, although I read the book way after we’d written our chapters and in no way had I stolen the idea, and even though our use of a “host” was quite different than Stephanie Meyer’s, I couldn’t help but worry that people might think we were story thieves. So we scraped that idea.
We continued reading as many books as we could. And the more we read, the more we began to see parts of our story in lots of other books. It can be very discouraging when you work so hard on something, only to find out that someone’s already done it, or at least a version of it. I totally let it affect my confidence as an original author, and eventually found that I couldn’t write anymore. The deadline we’d set to have this book completed and published by spring break passed us by a week ago and we’re still trying to re-write our story so that it’s as unique as possible while maintaining the integrity of our original idea. I guess I should rephrase that; Lindsay’s fingers fly through the chapters she’s writing, while my fingers sit paralyzed on the keyboard.
Finally, this week I adopted a new mantra: Screw It! No, no, not our book. Screw the OTHER books. As many of you experienced authors have long since discovered, all stories have been done before. That doesn’t make Lindsay and I story thieves, nor does it make us unoriginal. In fact, the undeniable theme of our story was done centuries ago by the greatest author of all time, so if we lock ourselves into the mindset that we can’t compete, we’ll never complete. We’ve decided that we don’t care that The Maze Runner character hears voices in his head, or that the city in a popular video game enforces a strict curfew…we’re keeping those aspects in our story anyway.
We have a story to tell. Parts of it may not be unique to just Conscript’s Creed, but the sum of all of its pages put together will be unique, and original, and ours alone. We won’t give up simply because it’s “already been done.” And we won’t fool ourselves into believing that we must do it better; that just adds too much pressure. Instead we will sit at our computer, chant, “Screw it! Screw it! Screw it!” twenty-five times (or more on needed days) and we will tell our story…our way.