Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Monday, October 12, 2009

Discovering something that already had been discovered.

I can't say that I dislike Columbus. He had his faults... I'm sure, and they may have been huge. Separating a person from their time period to evaluate their action always has poor results.... I'm not justifying his actions by any means. I'd call him inspired with poor execution, I guess. Anyway... that's not the point. The point is what the history books are littered with a phrase that inspires further review; I find the concept of him "discovering America" to be well... odd. It's not like he was the first here.

This brings me to the thought on my mind this morning... it's all been done. Yes. That's right. It's another cheery post for a Monday.

When I was in college, I took the most fascinating class in linguistics. It was called an "Introduction to Language." One of the things the teacher did was write a completely non-sensical sentence on the board and say that while it's probable that that particular sentence had most likely never been written down before... that's because it was worthless and pointless. Anything worth saying has been said. Anything worth doing has been done. The secret, then, is to say it better and in a more interesting way.

While my professor didn't say this, I'd also like to add the secret is also to not try to restate things. Sure it's all been said, but if you focus on that... then you're a drone. I don't think that people want to hear the same thing over and over in different words. I read a review of a book recently where the person said that they desperately wanted the book to be just like Twilight and recapture the feeling of Twilight. So... I might be wrong... in rare cases. In general, I think readers want something new.

I think a certain amount of naivete is important in writing. Even though you're not saying anything new... who fricken cares... if people enjoy reading it? It's not as if everyone will exhaust the entire subject of vampires, mutants, girls with improbable names, unicorns, butterflies, guys named "Rob," and so on. You may be saying something new for someone. This is my version of a fatalistically optimistic take on it.

Anyway... that's my thoughts for this moment on discovering something that's already been discovered. The reality is that you're not saying something new. The hope is that you've restated it. The dream is that you believe you've discovered something fantastic that no one has ever discovered before. I guess it's left up to the reader to decide which is true.


  1. Hi Wendy, amazing entry on Nathan Bransford's contest! Good luck!

  2. Thanks. Yours was great too. A lot of them were really, really good. I couldn't pick just one of them... or even just ten of them.

  3. Thanks. There were definitely some good entries. I don't envy him when it comes time to select the winner(s).