Does the world really need one more vampire story?
Before I answer that question, let me break into a seemingly irrelevant anecdote that will, of course, turn out to be a useful analogy.
I was sitting at my computer the other day and I decided to search for some music. I ended up on You Tube, like one does, and I found some old concert footage of Bobby Darin singing “Mack the Knife.” I noticed that one of the comments posted under the video, stating that only Bobby Darin could really do the song justice – other performers just didn’t get the timing.
I thought that was a particularly inane thing to say. The song in question has been performed by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and, believe it or not, Jimmy Buffet. You honestly mean to say that none of these professional, established, highly accomplished and very talented musicians can get the timing on a song?
The point is, the other performers had their own ideas. They probably had the skills to do a Bobby Darin impersonation, but why would they do that? They chose not to be Bobby Darin (or, in at least some of the cases, Bobby Darin probably chose not to be them – I’m not sure of the chronology). I mean really, would you rather hear Ella Fitzgerald belt a song out of the park as Ella or hear her do a pale imitation of someone else?
Does the world need another vampire story? Or another romance novel? Or another television show following the adventures of a starship crew? Another urban paranormal detective?
It needs at least one more: Yours.
But only if it really is yours, and not a poor rendition of someone else’s work. The world doesn’t need a Bobby Darin wannabe. Or, I guess, maybe a Steven King wannabe.
Artists use the same tools. Writers reiterate themes and genres and metaphors the way musicians cover songs. No sin there. Sometimes it’s even good that the audience is aware of the conventions of the genre, familiar with the style.
But everyone has their own unique perspective, too. Trying to be someone else is no way to succeed in art. At best, it’s a useful learning exercise. But I’m never going to buy an imitation when the original master is still publishing at the same price. Who would?
Today’s inspirational message was brought to you by the letter M and the numbers one and three.