I almost had a heart attack today when I saw a book review for a new novel whose main character and main event sounded extraordinarily similar to one that I have planned for the future. Fortunately, upon further reading, I discovered that the entire context and plot of this other novel was very different. Whew! But I worry every day that my idea--which I feel has solid commercial potential--will get written by someone else who had the same brainwave and was able to write it and sell it faster.
Who can forget the Deep Impact vs. Armageddon showdown? Or the dueling cookbooks about tricking kids into healthier eating by Jessica Seinfeld and Missy Chase Lapine, which turned into an ugly court case? Sometimes it's theft and sometimes it's zeitgeist. Sometimes it's the same brilliant thought occuring independently to two different people.
But before starting on THE BIG ONE (henceforth to be known as TBO) I still have to work out the plot because it's going to be a much more complicated piece than I've attempted before, and I still have to finish this blasted practice novel and then work on a novel that's been swimming in my head for years but was finally clarified last week when a key plot point clunked into place while I was thinking about something else. It's amazing how that happens. Let's hope that Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule holds true because by the time I finally get to work on TBO, I'll be a goddam master of the art. Let us also pray that nobody else writes it first!
Added thought: I will deliberately refrain from reading this other person's novel--even though it sounds fascinating--in order not to be influenced by it. I don't want to end up like this person!