So today I found out about the existence of a book called I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim, which I instantly decided to buy, not only because it sounds fascinating, but because it’s kind of the subject of the novel I’m working on, and while I’m fairly confident in my ability to actually make my characters into individuals and not stereotypes, getting to actually know more about their variety of experiences can only help me improve on that score.
Occasionally, I find myself finding out that somebody somewhere has already used a story concept that I’d individually decided I’d like to use. This in itself is fine–it’s nigh impossible to come out with completely original concepts, so it’s not something I worry about too much. The problem lies in deciding whether I’d like to actually see the completed work using that concept: on one hand, it allows me to see just how similar the takes on the concept are, but on the other hand, it allows me to see just how similar the takes on the concept are. If I find that a particular element I intended to use is replicated in the existing work, I suddenly end up feeling much less secure about it. Plus, it makes it impossible for me not to be influenced by the earlier work, which makes my work feel like less of my work. And although the situations aren’t equivalent–unlike Faerie, I Speak For Myself is non-fiction–I fear that may hold true here as well. What to do, what to do…?
On another note:
Yesterday I bought the book Black Images in the Comics: A Visual History (note: cover includes historically offensive and racist depictions of black people), by Fredrick Strömberg. A collection of excerpts from various comic (both newspaper comics and comic books), it aims to show and contextualize the way black people have been represented across the history of the medium. While I feel it’s problematic in parts–Strömberg approaches the book from the viewpoint of a comic book historian who found an interesting angle, rather than somebody who is particularly interested in race, so it sometimes seems that his understanding of the latter isn’t quite up to the 101 level–it’s a worth taking a look like if you’re a fan of the medium.