Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG: Doppelgangers

Today is the first Insecure Writer's Support Group event of 2018. Happy New Year. For those visiting here for the first time, IWSG Day is a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives...or in my case sometimes, just general thoughts on various subjects.

Recently, I came across an entertaining article on my news feed showing people photographed near their "doppelganger" in a museum painting. Certainly, at first glance, most of the images appear to show that the person's face has been duplicated in the painting beside them. Peering closer, I might spot subtle differences between the person and the subject in the painting. Perhaps the shape of the person's face is slightly wider than the one in the art, for example. Still, these people feel connected enough to the image in front of them to be photographed with it as if to announce "I found me!"

For many readers, that can be the appeal of reading a book (or watching a movie, TV show, etc...) where there's a character they can somewhat relate to, even if they're not exactly the same.

From a writer's perspective, when I come across a story another author had written with elements that mirror my own story, I can respond internally in two ways. One, I might think, Someone else gets it! Yay! Or two, I get insecure. Now people would think I'm biting off this work if and when mine gets published. Or my work might not even get published because industry folk would point to that other story and say, there's already a story like that on the market.

And still, I continue to write on.

Have you ever come across art that made you go, "That's me!" How do you feel when you come across another writer's work that's similar to what you're working on?

17 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You keep writing anyway. Your story is still your own and unique.
I don't think I've ever seen me in any artwork.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I haven't seen myself in artwork either, but I don't really look for it. Happy New Year! Hope it's a great writing year for you.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I would start wondering all kinds of things - about the artist, did I know him or her, was it pure coincidence or was it something ghostly/paranormal/otherworldly.... :o

Jo said...

Nope never have although people have told me they met or saw my double. It must be weird to see a painting that is "just like you".

Happy New Year.

S.P. Bowers said...

I haven't come across anything that was so similar to what I was writing that I was worried or stopped writing. Though I definitely have come across things similar. I do love reading things that echo my life or feelings. That's when I shout 'it's me!'

Pat Hatt said...

Can't say I've seen me in artwork haha but if elements of mine I see in others, so be it, just have to keep on keeping on.

Em-Musing said...

My very first manuscript was about a single mom who found subliminal conspiracy theory clues in new printed editions of children's books. She then got drawn into many scenarios where she had to use her "mommy wits" to survive the bad guys who wanted to eliminate her. Soon afterwards, a TV series called, The Scarecrow and Mrs. King came out with a similar concept - single mom goes undercover. I scrapped the manuscript thinking it wouldn't go anywhere. I was too new to writing novels to know there's room enough for all stories. I've since lost the manuscript when my old computer crashed...but I stll wonder...what if?

Rebecca Douglass said...

I do occasionally run across a story or a book that has superficial resemblance to my own story. Or sometimes life imitates art (I've been accused of using real people--people I didn't meet until AFTER I created my character!). I just write on. I worry more about reading so much of a particular author that their style gets into my head. That seems to be especially a problem with some that I like to listen to as recorded books.

Jennifer Lane said...

What an interesting idea, Cynthia. I agree we are looking for aspects of characters we can identify with. Happy New Year!

Chrys Fey said...

I've always wondered if there was someone out there who looked like me. It would be interesting to find out. Even more interesting to meet my doppelganger.

Liz A. said...

I submitted the first chapter of a novel I wrote several years ago to my writers group. Someone mentioned that a famous author had just published something very similar to my plot. That story needed work anyway, so away it went. For now, anyway.

Ella said...

Hi Cynthia! I feel like you, at first happy that someone gets me, than I feel like I am behind the curve. Remember, that your voice is unique and there will always be someone that has similar style. Keep going, like Em said-"...know there's room enough for all stories." I look forward to visiting you, again and reading your voice! Happy New Year

Jade said...

Hi Cynthia. :-) This is such a fascinating subject! Sometimes I notice a similarity in my writing to someone else’s that I read a long time ago and wonder if even though I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, they influenced me. And that has brought about a mixture of emotions. Lately I’m feeling more of a relief and less of a strain to be original. Since I’m an avid reader, I notice similarities in the books I read, and then at a second glance I realize how much variety there is, too and that is extraordinary to me!

Happy New Year!

The Silver Fox said...

I've had more than a couple projects in my mind that ended up being done by someone else (coincidentally, of course) before I was able to come out with my own.

My former writing partner often used to worry that he and I were working on something which would be compared to someone else's earlier work, and yet he'd turn around and totally rip off something else!

Crystal Collier said...

Actually, I've come across a few things where people have stolen my thunder...years after I completed a work. It's frustrating, but such is the way it works, eh? Inspiration is easy. Getting it out there isn't.

The Silver Fox said...

Wow, I thought I'd commented on this when you originally posted it! I actually had something like that happen years ago. My writing partner and I had developed a funny comic strip about a superhero. One of the syndicates to whom we submitted it pointed out that another funny superhero comic strip had come out recently, so as much as they liked ours, they decided not to buy it.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I saw the same thing on Facebook and thought it was pretty neat. I recently had a critique on a pb ms and the person referred me to a story about another snail...at first I was like uh oh...then I was like cool maybe snails are the new pigeons???

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