author C.C.Cole's blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On the Importance of Original Work

In the 1990’s, along with the rest of the country, I was a fan of the show “Ally McBeal.”  The fifty-pound lead character was cute, the nerd Biscuit lawyer was great, “Ling” was hilarious until it all feel apart to me from estrogen-toxicity.  But, years after the show, I still have the first CD soundtrack.

I always liked the after-work scenes, where they could all go blow it out after a hard days’ weird lawsuits.  (I admit to a bit of jealousy, never had a job like that).  What kept bringing me back to the CD even today are the songs.  Some of them are remakes from music artist Vonda Shepard, and some of them are her own written work.

Like films, with music, I attach myself to songs.  The songs I liked best from the CD were the original works of Vonda Shepard.  When I’ve heard a song done before, it takes a huge awesome performance by the redo-artist to bring me back to the same song.  For example, think of the remakes of “Dock of a Bay,” by Otis Redding.  Nevermind.  Don’t think about it, Otis is irreplaceable.

What does this have to do with the new author?  It’s everything.  If there’s anything/only thing a new author can bring to the table of a reader/publisher, it’s originality.  Big name authors over time often lose their gloss; especially mainstream templates like legal thrillers, murder mysteries, or conspiracy theories. 

What about the ongoing YA frenzy?  Are these books too much like “Harry Potter?”  Some of them remind me of Harry Potter, but in general, new authors I’ve reviewed deviate enough from the mega-hit enough to keep the story fresh.  What about the Vampire frenzy?  While I don’t gravitate constantly to vampire novels (but I use them as characters too), Diana Trees’ “Divine Wine” was nothing like any vampire story I’ve ever come across.  Count Dracula, eat your heart out on that one.

As new authors, we know that blockbuster success is very rare.  Does it mean your work isn’t entertaining?  No!  There’s no scale to weigh the integrity of any novel; it’s all about the audience, exposure, and sometimes, luck.  Life isn’t fair.  That’s OK, facing reality is part of adulthood.  But originality is part of our souls.  New authors, as long as you have that, you have something many writers don’t, famous or not. 

I still like Vonda Shepard.  And I never think of Ally McBeal episodes, except the Dancing Baby.  Some things are too great to forget.  May the work of new authors be that also.

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