I started reading David Eddings’ High Hunt today. I was a fan of Eddings as a child for his fantasy series, the Belgeriad and the Malloreon. My brother and I have talked about re-reading them, in order to see if my eldest niece, who is a great lover of fiction and fantasy, might like them.
Instead, I picked up Eddings’ first book, one of only two he wrote in a non-fantasy setting.
Almost immediately, you could see the influences. And, I’ll be honest, the prologue didn’t suck me in.
Chapter 1 did, though not without side damage.
While the prologue called to mind Hemingway, it was the first couple of chapters that made me immediately think, he’s channeling Holden Caulfield.
And then I thought about my current project.
I’m channeling Holden Caulfield. Albeit, it’s a bit cruder in both versions, but still. It’s Catcher In The Rye.
Now, I will say that I am still enjoying the book, being a little under a fifth of the way through. It really was just a few phrases that felt like a straight rip of Salinger.
But the implication that not only was a beloved author from my childhood unoriginal in his debut (and like I said, just started, it may still wow me by the end), but that my first effort may also be highly derivative as well…
It’s not been a good morning.
I always knew there were comparisons and inspirations to be made when it came to Dead Talker and Catcher In The Rye.
The idea was to write something about depression and how it tears us down bit by bit, isolating and numbing us while simultaneously driving us mad. It was meant to be the worst thing I could conjure – a self-destructive descent into nothingness, the intentional snuffing of one’s own potential, the wasting of one’s own life, not on pleasure, as some do, but on fear and insecurity and alienation. On doing and being nothing.
Instead, I’m suddenly feeling like I’ve written Holden if Holden were the star of a bad 90s comedy, replete with excessive dick and shit jokes and gratuitous nudity.
I guess that’s why we write multiple drafts. And why so many writers suffer from depression. After all, if it’s all been done before, what more can we do than tell it again in our own voice, with our own spin?
To try and hide our influences, even as we glory in them?