Friday, December 2, 2011

Writing the same book other people are writing

Have you ever had that experience?

I've had it a few times. I start a manuscript (sometimes even finish a manuscript) only to discover that someone has barely beaten me to the punch. When I was in grad school, I wrote a picture book about a truly terrible cat whose soft-hearted owner still loves him. Little, Brown asked to see it and then passed. A few years later ROTTEN RALPH by Jack Gantos appeared on the scene. I am not ashamed to say RALPH was much better than my manuscript.

Yesterday I just read a new middle-grade novel called BIGGER THAN A BREAD BOX about a girl who has her wishes granted by a magic breadbox (this sounds dopey, but it's actually a VERY good book). A few years ago I finished a manuscript about a girl whose wishes are granted by a magic diary. My agent didn't like it much and never sent it out, and again I am not ashamed to say BREADBOX is a much better novel.


I remember Nancy Griffith once said that every morning when she got out of bed, she went to the window to capture whatever song was there before it floated on down to Lyle Lovett's house. At least I think she said Lyle Lovett. But that's not the point. The point is that ideas seem to be OUT THERE, just swirling around, waiting for someone to channel them.

I dibs to be the first published channeler!

1 comment:

Louise Plummer said...

This is one of the reasons I no longer want to read books that I feel I could have written myself. I want to be surprised by language and genius that never drifted by my window.

(I think I'm on the same subject, sort of).