I'm sitting in the library trying to design a city for my book. I've read Tolkien, Trudy canavan, c.s. lewis, kris kirkpatric, george R. R. martin, Karen Miller, Rowling, and of course Guy Gavriel Kay. The list of authors from all genres I've read is endless and I realise it's next to impossible to build my maps, and grids without similarities. It's like traveling the world I live in now no matter what culture i'm in there are some base things that will be similar. So critics will say I stole this and it reminds them of that but there isn't much that I can do about that. Here in lies the problem.
I have to come up with accents and a common tongue. My main character is tall with golden brown hair and blue eyes like in my last book Dana, but this is only due to the fact that I was reaching to see what if the race he's from, that I've fabricated for the book, and the other race, his parents aren't of the same race, what would a mix be like. And as such I've got a slew of rules for creating things that can only happen to mix raced children. Alas it doesn't really matter that it's pure coincidence. People will say that he, who's name is Leo, and Dana, are in fact stylized the same though their characters are quite different.
But back to the city, i'm dreading having to describe the dwarf and elvish cities. Nothing I seem to imagine on my own is unique. Putting them in trees, hmmm lord of the rings comes to mind. Hiding the dwarves in the mountains. My head is swimming in seas of how perfectly structured their cities are. And human cites. Well they are all built from things they learn from the dwarves and elves, so I must make them slightly less exciting which means the dwarf and elf cities must be beyond amazing. It's just so frustrating, even as a read other books to hear stuff like this book is hijacked from this, and this is a rip off from that, and so on and so forth. As a lover of fantasy no matter how unique or brilliant I find a book, they all remind me of something I've read about by another author. The trick is what you do with the same material.
I have so much elements in my book that remind me of all the things that I've written and read before. And the more I come up with brand new ideas, by the time I have them so infused into my book I cant take them out without a complete overhall, i get that.... "oh fuck this is just like" to late it has to stand as is now. A lot of our best ideas come to us filtered through all the information we have collected over time. I find it so sad that both as critics and as readers that somethings that are so engraved in the style of certain genre we cant just overlook. If we like a book we consciously decide to ignore all the things that are clearly blatant copies of another book. If we don't like a book, we can pick out a plethora of movies and novels that this particular piece is copying from. It's just insane for me as a reader to have to constantly listen to this, and know that although in my mind my new novel is one hundred percent hardcore imaginative fantasy, that even I already can find things in it that I refuse to change, that a five year old can say, yeah that's like this book.
So yes I'm frustrated from here to the ends of the universe. I want my cities and roads and streets to all look certain ways and no matter what I do to get these things on the right path, they almost and always will be subject to being copies from another book. Sometimes not even from the same genre which is another author curse. Even if you put something from one genre into another they will still say you're copying even though it's next to impossible because you have to reshape an idea to fit into a whole new set of rules. The only way a book should be subject to being a user or unoriginal is if when you put it directly beside another book its main characters and plot line make the exact same shapes and shifts. If somewhere it veers of into it's own ideas well there's some original material there. If it reminds you of a lot of other books. That also counts as original because it's infused so much that it isn't a copy of any one thing and therefore can stand on it's own branch of how this style can be written.
I guess what I'm saying is I almost never say a movie or book reminds me of another movie I've seen unless the similarities are so close they might has well be the exact same movie, case and point the Second Saw, is almost play by play like the first Cube. Anyone who saw the first cube, one crazy psycho out for himself, people stuck in a house with different traps in each. All of them have the skills to work together to get out but the one person who's crazy stops this from happening. End result only one person escapes. No shock there. I was highly disappointed. And both the crazies seemed latino or latin american to me. Coincidence... I think not... And that was probably the first time I ever really conceded to the fact that sometimes yes... You can get copies so obvious that even people like me who try their best to ignore these things have to give in and admit it.
That being said. I'm going to design this city. Do my best to be creative and original with it. My biggest fear is not that it will read like something I know, but that I will recreate the exact replica of something that exists in something I haven't read. It's happened to me before and no matter how hard you try to explain that if I didn't know it existed then it is original. It's just not the first. It wont matter. The fact that my brain and me got so excited about this wonderful amazing city that will only exist in my novel doesn't matter. My ego will not be deflated because I know the truth but what does that matter. All the critics and the readers who know of this other city dont care that I did in fact come up with this idea all on my own and under the pretense that it was original. Someone else did it first so it cant be a recreation it's a copy.
So I will trudge along down this path and do the best I can to write a fantasy trilogy that will stand the test of time, but do I have faith that it will, do I believe it will survive. Will anyone look at the fact that I have pains that most thirty year olds never have, headaches due to working long hours and then coming home to type. Will they care that I have cheat sheets of notes like I'm doing a research paper just to keep track of everything I believe I created of my own design. Will they give a fuck. No they wont. What it reminds them all of is what's most important.
That's my rant for today.
I don't have writers block, but city block. Pages and pages of information after describing this city but since those pages happen in this city I can't move on. I'm stuck not by my own ideas, but by what the world and critics will do to these ideas that will stall my books growth no matter how unique it actually is. And that's some fucked up shit.