Have all the songs been written? Have all the truths been told?
– Have All The Songs Been Written? by the Killers
This is not the first blog post I’ve ever written. I’ve written several blog posts over the last couple of year, but none have ever been published.
I’ve spent hours trying to concoct a creative, thought provoking, yet honest angle to various topics. I drudged through the often frustrating writing process. Then, I went word by word making edits. Eventually, I arrived at a finished essay I was very proud of.
Then, while pursuing a few of my favorite blogs, something inexplicable happened over and over again. There it would be in black and white…a post seemingly pulled right from my own brain. Years earlier usually, the blogger had written a post amazingly similar to the one I’d painstakingly finished only a day or two earlier. And, I’m not talking similar, I mean damn near word for word.
It was infuriating. I’m supposed to be creative and original. I believe I’m someone who thinks differently, but evidently I don’t.
All that time spent struggling to come up with the right words. The hours wasted looking up punctuation rules. And for what? To produce an unoriginal, inferior post that no one will read anyways?
Yeah, pretty much!
The only logical conclusion was: it was pointless to start a blog if I couldn’t come up with an original idea. So, the essays stayed trapped in my Google Drive folder labeled ‘Stories and Ideas,’ never to see the light of day.
I bring it up because this just happened again, but on a much larger scale. I had the bright idea that instead of writing a blog, I’d write a book. Blogs are so 2012 anyway, right? Once again, I had what I thought was an original idea. It was counter intuitive. It went against the grain of common sense on the subject. It was perfect.
I had sections outlined, a rough introduction and even a few chapters fleshed out. My target was 50,000 words; I was 15,000 in. I was over a quarter of the way the way there! It was by far the most words I’d ever written on a single subject. I was feeling really good about myself. I felt confident that I could actually finish a rough draft in 3-6 months. Some research had to be done, but it was a book–you do research when writing a book. No problem.
Then it happened…again.
I was taking a look at one of my newest favorite blogs – markmanson.net. Mark is a brilliant writer, and I’d neglected to read his last few blog posts, so I thought I’d catch up. I’d recently joked to a friend that there was no reason for me to write anything, because everything I think Mark had already written. I meant it to be tongue and cheek. It was a freaking joke!
After reading his newest post–a great article about FOMO–I click on ‘Best Articles’ and as I scanned down, it stared me right in the face. It was the perfect title for my book, ‘In Defense of Being Average.’
The essay was broken down into sections which mirrored the chapters of my book. His premise was even the same as mine–the bell curve and its use in defining average. He pointed out the stupidity of expecting to be extraordinary. He tackled the question of “if you can’t be amazing what’s the point of trying?” Just like me! He talked about our misguided culture of exceptionalism. Mark bashed social media, and he pointed out that we’re exposed to far too many videos of people doing awesome stuff on YouTube. He even used the same examples I did: Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.
I was having a total Fight Club moment. Was I simply a manifestation of Mark Manson’s psyche or was I sleep-writing awesome blogs and New York Times Best Sellers? I was honestly beginning to question my own reality.
So, what else could I do? I decided to scrap the book. It was just more proof that I was an unoriginal hack. What was I going to write about now? I was frustrated. Defeated. Aimless.
“Screw it! I’m done attempting to be some sort of writer!” I thought. I’d gone through this tantrum every time this scenario played out, but it had never been a book. It had never been 15,000 words. I wasn’t under some delusion that I was going to a writer. I didn’t have expectations of New York Times Bestsellers. Hell, I didn’t have expectations that anyone would ever pay me a dime to write a single word. I just wanted an outlet for the thoughts in my head that wouldn’t fit in a text message to my friends. I just wanted to complain to someone other than my wife about the state of the world. I’m sure she gets tired of my repetitive babble.
I still wanted that.
So, now what? What idea was I going to write about? What creative angle was I going to use to approach a topic? What original thought was I was to lend to this hypothetical subject. Then I remembered that ubiquitous line everyone has heard–write about what you know. Someone famous said that, I bet…I know it’s not original.
So that’s what I decided to do–write about what I know. This is my attempt at that.
Is it all original? Absolutely not. Is any of it original? Probably not. I’ve given up on that, and to be fair to myself, that might be an unrealistic goal. An estimated 107 billion people have lived on Earth, and I find it impossible to believe that there is a thought that no two people have shared.
We’ve all forgotten how to be original.
– Peter Jackson, writer/director of completely original, never thought of before films such as: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, and The Hobbit trilogy
So, my aim is something else…authenticity. And that is what this blog will be…me. I’m simply going to write about things I find interesting, entertaining, inspiring, and thought provoking. I have no aspirations beyond that. I hope to get better at writing and maybe a theme will develop. I make no promises about its originality, creativity, or uniqueness. You might find it boring, convoluted, contradictory, or unimaginative, but that would make authentic.
And the truth is, that’s all I can attempt to do, because when it comes to my thoughts…everything has already been written.