Everybody wants to be original. From the modern day hipster searching for some out of reach, fashionable-yet-abstract look to the virtual blogger seeking to find a new niche to exploit and have their voice known, every individual wants to leave their own personal mark.
Unfortunately, with seven billion people alone living today, not to mention the countless individuals that have existed before, this is somewhat difficult to achieve. Originality is a rare accomplishment today. From as far back as research allows us, we have found evidence of stories being told, inventions being made and seemingly every thought process to induce something creative having been run through another’s minds, or even accomplished before our own births. This is a somewhat frightening thought for me. Regardless of how expansive the human imagination is (according to Vsauce on YouTube 1.458 x 10227 ‘total’ thoughts throughout time), there is surely a limit to the amount of outright new material we have to work with or compose.
I have found this issue foremost in my own attempts at writing. As a child and even into my mid-teens I have found inspiration to write my own stories at every turn. Be it a horror, fantasy or some form of spy work I would type out dozens of pages and take pride in the knowledge that this was my own creation, my own creativity. Something which soon made me pause however was the daunting realisation that it was only as I finished reading a new book that my own inspiration thrived. Horror struck as I searched through my old pieces and realised they were but somewhat adapted versions of my favourite childhood books. Such a thought did truly make me stop and think about my previously unhinging desire to become an author. In fact, it reached the extent to which I dropped my favourite lesson English and went on to study history at University instead. I realised that no matter what I wrote, whatever plot twists I came up with, some bastard a few generations back had already put it into print.
But this shouldn’t be the case. It’s human nature to learn, to absorb all that surrounds us and interpret it in our own fashion. All we are is but a conglomeration of that which we have seen, felt and heard. Even Shakespeare, widely considered the original composer of timeless plotlines, took much of his work and inspiration from the works of writers from classic antiquity. Although some may argue supposedly new pieces are circulated all the time, these are on the whole abstract works with little more integrity than they are given by a horde of people searching for meaning in any and all things to assure the unobservant world of their ‘culture’. Perhaps there is a reason that there are genres and ‘classic’ storylines. People seem to enjoy them, no matter how overdone they are.
So if we are truly living in a world where there is no originality, do not despair. Take solace in the fact that although the plot line may be ‘overdone’, the protagonist a genre-born cliché, you in writing it yourself have made your piece original, as when we are creative and imaginative we lend something of ourselves into everything we do. So take up the pen, the camera and brush and enjoy the work you do, regardless of whether or not someone may have thought of it before.