Eerie synchronicity and execution

25 Oct

Have you ever heard of synchronicity?

How someone is banging away at an idea somewhere, and somewhere else someone else is having the same flash of genius?

Darwin and Wallace had it, right?

Okay, not really; they were aware of each other’s work, and it was more a matter of who finished first and got it published. Still, they started their research and came to their conclusions independently from each other.

To my amazement, I have been witness—if not quite part—to something eerily like that (though obviously not on that scale).

It’s more amazing to me than the Darwin/Wallace thing, though, because it is completely out of the blue—Twilight Zone stuff.

See, back in March I was chatting away with this writer, just shooting the breeze, and then we started with, “wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a story about this?” and “oh and then the heroine could do that!” and “nah, that’s been done… but what about this other thing?” and “man, and then she could… and he could… and they would…”

And a couple of hours later she tells me, “Hey, I have a proposal for a book from that chat!”

A few weeks later she tells me, “Hey, I sold that book from that chat.”

Months passed and I pretty much forgot the original conversation, let alone everything else. Then, just yesterday I was privileged to read a very early copy of the book in question. (In case you are interested, it’s good, in my never humble opinion—really good.)

But here’s the kicker: over four months after the brainstorm, a novel came out. I read that book about three weeks or so after its release. I liked that novel, a lot, even while noticing some issues (but then I’m told I’m the nitpicker from hell), discussed it with a few people—some loved it, some hated it, the usual—and forgot about it. I mean, I’ve read something like thirty books since I finished it, you know?

Then I start reading the manuscript I mentioned, and during the first thirty pages or so I get this nagging feeling of familiarity. Suddenly, it hits me like the proverbial anvil: the beginning of the manuscript has some superficial similarities to that published novel (what the hero does, how and why him and the heroine meet, and a couple of other elements).

But given how things work in publishing, that published novel was probably finished and delivered to the publisher some six to seven months before its release, if not more—which in turn means that while this writer and I were having that chat, the other novel had already been at the publisher for a few months.

How’s that for a coincidence?

(Aside: this brings to mind the old thing about there only being three or seven or however many plots ever.)

But the truly cool part is just how different these two novels are.

Yes, there are some common elements to both, and the set up is superficially similar, but the end result? Each author’s voice and their focus are entirely different. I liked the characters in both books, but for completely different reasons, as they are such different people with very different motivations.

As I said above, the premise at the beginning of both books appears similar at first sight, but the way the relationships between the two sets of protagonists develop, as well as what is behind that initial premise, are entirely different.

I am going to have a difficult time waiting for all y’all to get your hands on the second book, and see what you think.

(Second aside: I know stuff you don’t, nyah nyah, and I’m not telling.)

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