Submitted for your approval: you’re writing the great American novel. Scratch that. Your idea is so inspired the great American novel is writing itself. Galactic forces dictate cosmic secrets and you, the humble writer, just transcribe them. You are a vessel, a witness to a celestial ritual that has been documented throughout the ages. Sure, you have a hand in building this universe. You populated it with characters, but the characters have all the real clout. They make the decisions for you.
The writing is automatic. A seance across your keyboard. The characters borrow your hand when they need it. They page you at the least convenient times: at work, in the shower, on the bus.
They whisper, “We have something to say that requires our cryptographer.”
They’re spirits texting you in the night. The planchette slides across the Ouija board like a hockey puck. “Put this quip in my mouth. Put this weapon in my hand. Set this scheme into motion.” They’re driven, self-serving, rife with goals that blossom into beautiful conflicts.
Gone are the cardboard tropes that once populated your fiction. The straw men have toppled over. Here lies “Joe Everyman, too vanilla for anyone to really relate to.” The succubi that once called your prose home, have been run out of town. The made to order victims, the “women in refrigerators” have all melted away. Your characters are so well developed, you can’t help but wonder if they even need you at all.
You find yourself rereading passages with fresh eyes. Sifting through the ruins of memo pads and obscure file extensions. Where did this come from? Who was I when I wrote this? You can’t help but think you’ve stumbled upon a window into another world, something magical. What is writing but a form of telepathy? You indulge in a self congratulatory pat on the old back. Your farts have lost their fragrance and you’re opening up your palette. You’re ready to unleash your magnum opus onto the hungry eyes of the literate world.
It’s time to hit the web, to Kickstart, to Digg, to Tweet it from the mountaintops. You’ve arrived in the valley, heaving ePub formatted tablets. It’s time to cash in that million dollar idea. Your story must be told. All that’s left to do is register the domain name. That’s when Google chars yours wings and sends you fluttering back down to earth.
Someone has registered it already. Their title is one word off from yours. Their concept, is a tepid rendition of yours. Those galactic forces, whispering into your ear, they were hedging their bets.
Allow me to shift perspectives from second to first. Allow me to break through the forth wall with all the grace of the Kool-Aid man. That preceding hypothetical scenario, yeah, that’s my story. I wrote a book called, “Jimmy the Nightmare Hunter.” It’s about what would happen if you dropped the classic Disney orphan into a Stephen King fever dream. A hard R-rated horror story with an unlikely protagonist. A daydreamer pitted against nightmares. One part fairy tale, one part cosmic horror story.
Little did I know, there’s a Saturday morning cartoon pitch called, “Sidney the Nightmare Hunter,” in the pipeline, courtesy of Tim Burton’s production house. Sidney is the G-rated version of Jimmy. When I read into their pitch I realized our concepts were polar opposites. The problem is, would my audience? Now I find myself tasked with showcasing what makes my piece unique. That and renaming the whole sodding thing.