Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Collective Consciousness and the Color Green

My favorite poem of all time is Christina Georgina Rossetti's "Goblin Market." In fact, it's played a very big role in my writing career.

For one, it taught me to use sensory description to pull a reader into my MC's head. Upon reading the poem the first time, I was THERE, trying to fight the allure of the cursed and luscious fruits, forging a relationship w/my sister, grieving as she withered away before my eyes and I struggled to save her. Christina's words flowed like magic waves on the page, catching me in their tide until I was eternally enchanted.

Also, this deep appreciation for Goblin Market helped bring Agent Goddess and me together. We talked about the poem once just before I decided to sign with her. She loved it as much as me, even directed me to several images via the internet -- Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Christina's brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti -- which complimented the masterpiece.

Knowing how much Jenny loved Christina's lush and evocative attention to detail was a big selling point for me. Since I'm a very descriptive writer, I knew Jenny would get that side of my writing.

So I guess it stands to reason, since this poem holds such a special place in my heart, that I hope to one day pen a YA based on some of the elements, in tribute to Christina's vivid imaginings; similar to how I wrote one in tribute of Lewis Carroll's masterpiece.

Currently I'm working on a different YA WIP, but in the back of my mind I've been toying with the Goblin Market spinoff. I've come up with some interesting ideas, and was starting to get very excited about the concept until the other day, low and behold, I see a book review on someone's tweet about this self-published debut:

 (click on cover for a blurb; it sounds FAB)

Curses! Foiled by collective consciousness! But I refuse to let jealousy rear its ugly head. Nope, there will be no green here today, except on the lovely book cover above.

As a writer, I have to embrace reality. This isn't the first time this has happened, and it won't be the last.

When I was querying Splintered  I had an agent reject it on the grounds that there were several reinventions of Alice in Wonderland recently bought so she feared the market would be inundated with them. She scared me so much I researched PublishersMarketplace and found them:

Alice in Zombieland (about a girl named Alice who’s in a car accident; wakes up, her family’s dead, and she’s in a post apocalyptic world where zombies run rampant)

Alice À Paris (about an American girl abroad in Paris; non-fanstasy)

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (a fantasy YA similar only to Alice in Wonderland in that the girl has an adventure in a fairyland).

They are all scheduled to come out early next year. Am I worried? At first I was, until I took a really good look at the synopsis for each.  

None of them have any ties to the Lewis Carroll world. Mine is an adaptation/continuation of the original story. I pay tribute to the Victorian/Carrollian elements--tinging his characters a darker shade and twisting whimsical situations to pure creepiness. So that sets my book apart. Just like other elements set theirs apart.

All this to say, I'm still going to write my Goblin Market spinoff one day. My premise is different from the other author's, and I believe there's room for each of our books. The world we live in is made up of many different readers who want many different things. Subjectivity, which has so often seemed a thorn in my side, is at long last my hero.

How about you? Have you ever had a book idea and realized someone else was writing something similar? Did you let it stop you, or did you keep writing your story because your heart believed in it too much to quit?


  1. I'm constantly running across books that are similar in some way (or ways) to my WIP. That's scary--but then I just hope that those books will be popular, and help whet everyone's appetite for mine! :)

  2. I say go for it, Anita. It's the voice that matters, and your voice is your own. There will always be spin offs of other stories. Look at Disney--they keep coming up with new versions of fairy tales.

    Btw, you feeling better now? Hope everything's ok.

  3. Oh man, I HATE when that happens. Yes, it's happened to me. *sigh* But not with Bridegroom's, thank goodness!
    I loved your sentence about getting caught in her tide. Beautiful!

  4. great post! They say there is nothing new under the sun--I think it is all about how we twist things and strive for that creative difference that sets us apart. Can't wait for your book to come out, although I may have to read it only during the day and with every light on lol :-)

  5. Hi Anita!

    I'm just waiting to come across a book similiar to my WIP. One of the reasons I decided to write it was because I had not seen anything like it in the YA market (though several titles on the topic/issue exist in the adult market). I know at some point I'll probably run into something similiar, but hopefully mine will be unique enough to stand out.

  6. Wonderful post. I hadn't read that poem. It's beautiful. I hope you write your Goblin Market tribute.

    The paintings were terrific, too. Seems like you and agent goddess were meant to be.

    I'm going to tell my sister how much I LOVE HER now. :)

  7. With sentences like this: "Christina's words flowed like magic waves on the page, catching me in their tide until I was eternally enchanted", you can rework the Bible and nobody's going to mind.

    GO FOR IT!

    As far as sharing my idea with someone else...Right now I wish that were true. Maybe they wouldn't think me such a rebel rouser with my amusing take on an apparenly touchy subject.

  8. Robin, what a WONDERFUL way to look at it! Thanks for that insight, wise writer. ;) I'm going to try that myself.

    Thanks Cherie! Good point about Disney. And they always do such a bang up job, too! I love their fairytale adaptations. And thanks for your concern about me. I'm waiting for the ultrasound. Once I get that done, we can find out if it's gallbladder or something else and get it treated. The pain is more managable today; the doctor gave me pain pills to take if it gets bad again. :) I'll keep you posted, sweet friend.

    Hi Jessie!! Of course no one's thought of a plot like Bridegrooms! That one is so unique and touching. Kind of like I don't think anyone will ever come up with one like WLW. Every once in a while, we all hit on an idea that's never been done, I think. The trick is, convincing an agent/editor that it's not too out there, so they'll pub it.

  9. Thank you, Rachel! I agree. Our voice also plays a huge part in that twisting and twining effect. LOL about Splintered! It's not THAT scary. I'll bet you'll be able to keep your light on. Oooh, except for this one scene with a creepy baby doll. That one even scared me while writing it. HEH

    Hello, Angela! I'll bet yours will be unique enough to stand out. You have me very intrigued! Keep writing it so you can get it out there and we can read it! ;)

  10. Oh, and Jessie, thanks for the compliment about my sentence! You know me with the pretty words. Can you tell I'm in literary love w/Christina? Haha

    Mary, thank you! And I do plan to write my Goblin Market YA. I'm too excited about the premise not to. :) And yeah, I think Jenny and I were written in the stars. LOL So sweet about your sister. That poem made me wish I had a sister to call. Brothers are rotten, and not quite the same. HA.

    Thanks Bethany! You're so good for my confidence. :) I think a very BIG Someone might mind if I reworked the Bible, though. Is that thunder I hear in the distance? LOL. I feel you on the rebel rouser point. But don't give up on that story! I still think it just needs to be seen by the right set of agent eyes. Thanks for dropping by! :)

  11. I write fairy tale retellings. Of course someone else has written a book with a similar idea. I'm really learning to appreciate my own take on things and the voice that I bring to the story.

  12. Cool, Kayeleen! So we share that affinity of reworked fairytales, aye? Nice way to look at the process, too. Thanks for commenting! :)

  13. Touche.
    I agree that the Big Guy might not like any major modifications, however I do believe He sits back, leg crossed over knee, from time to time and watches us with a big smile on his face. If anyone can appreciate creativity--it's Him.

  14. LOL! Bethany, you crack me up. And I see your point. Well played, dear friend. :)

  15. That Goblin Market book is on my iPad even now!

    But yeah, it's one of those, "Everything's been done" things, isn't it? I was writing this epic vampire series back in 2001. A few years later Twilight blew up the whole subgenre and here I am, these five books in hand, desperately trying to learn how to write so I could get them out there...

    I'm immediately going, "Oh god. Who will ever want to read this now?"

    (I have since taken Robin's view. Someday, those kids will grow up and want mean ass vampires. And here I am!)

    But you know, it's cool. Cuz what we do is different from what everyone else does. Even if it's the same in obvious ways. Too right <3

  16. Woohoo! That doesn't surprise me ONE BIT, Katey, my fellow supporter of classic lit. Interesting you should say that about the vampire series (speaking of which sounds like something I would LOVE to read). I was working on a vampire fantasy w/sci fi elements right around the time Twilight made it's debut. Mine has still to see the light of day. PUN intended. HEH.

    Anyway, I agree. Someday, our stories will be what people want to read, BECAUSE of the unique twists.

  17. Seconded on the love for 'Goblin Market'. One of my teachers read the beginning of the poem out, saying it was meant to be heard and spoken, and her mouth forming that long, luscious list of fruits was close to being sexual, swear to God. I definitely had fun reading Rosetti's other poems, too, lots of fallen women and loss, aka fun. I agree with what other commenters have said, it's the unique twist you bring to the story from your life experience and world view that will make your story original. And you can never have too many remakes of Alice in Wonderland, that world was meant to be explored.
    - Sophia.

  18. LOL, Sophia! You're so right about the sexual connotations. :) In fact, if you google the poem, you'll find a LONG list of essays written on that subject. Hee

    And thanks for the encouragement! I'll definitely put my spin on it, just like I did on Alice. I agree, there's so much material there to play with! :)

  19. Good for you, Anita, for not letting those other releases bother you or bring your spirit down! I don't know of any BOOKS out there like mine (yet), but this season on Gossip Girl, I cringed quite a few times because the story lines were so dang close to parts of mine. Given the fact several beta readers have already compared my book to Gossip Girl (the series, not the books), I live in constant fear that people will think I got my inspiration from that show, when in actuality, it hadn't even aired yet when I first started writing.

    Still. I know my book is MUCH different than the series, so I have faith in it. It's hard, though, when we see how similar others' ideas are to ours.

  20. Ashley, your book sounds great! And yes, just keep writing it. There are similarities everywhere in life in every situation. We can't constantly second guess ourselves, right? Just stay true to the story, and that sincerity will shine through.

    BTW, being compared to Gossip Girl? That's not a bad thing at all, in my book! Hope you get that WIP out there soon so I can read it. :)

  21. I had that happen once. I had written a story that I simply could not finish. Then I'm sitting there.. it's movie night... the family has popcorn and the lights are out. The movie begins and my mouth drops open. There was my idea... making millions and Robin Williams was the lead! haha. Great post! Glad I dropped by!

  22. Hi Vanessa! Oh, no! You should've kept writing that story. You'd be a millionaire! ;) So funny. Thanks for sharing. :)

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