I had an interesting conversation with Method in the Madness the other day. I was complaining about my inability to decide on what book I wanted to read next. So she, being a true friend, half offered me a book rec, “The Ten Thousand Kingdoms.” (I say half offered because it didn’t live up to her expectations, but she can tell you about that if she feels like it, perhaps here. She’s there, just behind her cloak of invisibility) I got really excited, because it so happened that this was one of the books on my reading list.
If I have fans, they know what the problem with my book lists or any sort of planned reading endeavor. It all goes right out the window when I step foot in a library and/or thrift shop. Most of the list consists of titles that I don’t remember adding or why they are there. “The Ten Thousand Kingdoms” is one such title. I have no clue how it ended up on my list, but it was there. Or so I thought…
Once MitM rec’d(ish) the book I went to my list to check and see, because I needed confirmation that I had prescient good taste. But to my dismay, I had a similar title on the list called “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.” So I informed her, of my misconception. (This is all via text by the way and/or psychotic hallucinogenic beta waves, because all of my friends live so far away that I’m still not entirely convinced they’re not imaginary)
In my brain it was definite fact that both of these titles existed, because so many book titles are similar that you’d be better off leaving a title off of one entirely if you’re a new author. Might even help your publicity. Your book would be like the symbol formally known as Prince circa the weird period in the 90-somethings.
I didn’t do any of this in any kind of sane way by the way. I don’t want you to think I suddenly started reacting to things properly or making sense. That is not the stuff of mediocre legends my friend. Instead I verbally accosted her with my error and then demanded to know how many kingdoms there actually were. At which point she noticed that perhaps she had made an error in the name, but… It was too late.
A quote from my real life:
“No! The kingdoms are infinite. Spreading across the cosmos in an unending Empire”
I also don’t want to give the impression that MitM is in anyway some sane steadying hand in my life either. She totally went with it, changed the title to Infinite Kingdom; and, as is she is prone to do, demanded that I write this story.
You’re probably wondering what the point of this tale is, well I’ll tell you my friend. Because it was at this point that I realized, “Holy shit, that story exists.” In several iterations. The examples I came up with at the time were the Galactic Empire from Issac Asimov’s “Foundation” series; and the empire from Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” I think I also mentioned the Borg from Star Trek, but I’m uncertain as to just how big the collective truly is, I wasn’t that into the Voyager series where most Borg story and history took place. (I will be supreme nerd one day, I’m coming for you Stephen Colbert)
So then, I fell upon a paradox of sorts. Contemporary writers are making variations of stories that have already been told hundreds of times. The names and faces have been changed to protect the copyright. With the exception being the thousand and one retellings of stories beyond copyright protection. (Looking at you Alice in Wonderland. Die already.) But, if that’s all they’re doing, then why (and I’m speaking from personal experience here) is world building so flipping hard?! Seriously I have a thing that I’ve worked on, off and on for a number of years that I won’t call a story. It’s mostly written in pieces and a lot of it is just in my head or backstory that isn’t part of the direct narrative. It’s your basic reluctant chosen one story. Which we all know, is basically a rip off of the greatest story ever told. The man who sacrificed himself for humanity, “The Terminator 2.”
I’m working and criticizing myself stupid over a story concept that’s been done to death and by better writers than I will probably ever be. Trying to be more unique and creative than the latest version of the story that came out, and for what? Because I like writing?
Current internal stupid monologue:
“Look at this lame ass over here. Likes to write. You think you’re better than Tolkien, Rowling, Butler? Get outta here with that, Ms. Fancy Britches”
My internal critic is from the New England area apparently.
But I do like to write though. Even though sometimes it fills me with so much anxiety I contemplate shutting my whole life down and moving to the Arctic. (In writing’s defense though, it doesn’t take much to make me want to move to the Arctic. I like glaciers and hate adult responsibilities so…)
Even this blog is unoriginal. How many people have written about how there are no new stories to tell? How many people have written about people who write about how there are no new stories to tell? How many people have written about people writing about people writing about people who write about how there are no new stories?!
Is This The Matrix???