The collective subconscious is a term coined by renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung to describe the concept of a shared consciousness that links all humans. According to Jung, it is a part of the unconscious mind that shares concepts like religion, science, and morality.

I think it applies to writers' ideas as well.

How else do you explain similar ideas that sprout up from two unconnected sources, almost simultaneously? It's almost like there's an idea store that humans can tap into, with recurring themes and images and symbols. The creativity of the individual determines the wrapping and interpretation of these ideas, but the undercurrent between them remains essentially the same.

I'm not talking about blatant attempts to capitalize on similar concepts, à la Armageddon and Deep Impact, two asteroid-hurtling-toward-Earth movies that came out in 1998. Rather, I'm talking about a situation like one I recently ran into on the WD forum, where another author posted a story with aspects that I have in one of my own stories stashed away on my computer's hard drive (a sea-faring society and dragons). She'd never seen my story and I'd never seen hers before. The stories are completely different, apart from those two very basic elements. But I felt a little bit like I'd seen the same dress I was wearing on someone else—only it looked better on her.

Professionals in the publishing industry will tell you that truly original ideas are hard to come by and potentially even harder to sell. Nathan Bransford, literary agent and blogger extraordinaire, had a contest back in April called Agent for a Day, where he challenged people to answer 50 queries in one day, much like an actual agent would. Participants had to repond in the comments of each posted query about whether they would request a partial manuscript based on the query. One of the results that came out of the contest was that many people passed on queries because they felt the idea had been done before. In a follow-up post, Nathan explains that it's the execution of the idea and not necessarily the idea itself that can garner you an agent and a publishing contract, since so many themes have recurred in literature and will continue to recur, ad infinitum.


TOPAZ status: Going strong! I'm currently working at page 260 and just over 70,000 words. This is a huge deal for me, since this is the first time I haven't struggled to reach a novel-length word count. I think I've got at least 70 pages to go, so 90,000 words isn't out of the question. I'm so stoked!