when your idea was someone else’s, part 2

Every time I look at the upcoming January YA releases, I get a little sad.

As some of you know, I’ve been working on a novel about Elisabeth Bathory since about 2010. Over the summer of 2018, I put forth a real effort to try to finish it, didn’t quite get there, and then wrote new 3 novels in 2019, so I didn’t have much time then either. And about halfway through 2019, I discovered that there was a new YA book coming out about Elisabeth Bathory, that had the exact same title as my unfinished manuscript.

Which led me, of course, to lose all motivation to work on this novel.

The last YA novel about Elisabeth Bathory was Blood Confession by Alisa Libby, and it came out in 2006. Which would mean that the market wouldn’t be ready for a third novel about her until 2035 or so.

My story is quite different from Lana Popovic’s upcoming novel, just as it was different from Blood Confession. Is my take different enough? Is there any way I could rebrand it?

All I can say is that I have to set this story aside for now, and focus on other projects. That’s all that can be done, right? I wrote a little about the problem of two similar ideas in a previous blog post, but this similar idea was even harder to deal with. Mostly because the part of me that is fascinated by Elisabeth Bathory wants to read this upcoming novel. The other part of me will probably stew in professional jealousy the whole time I’m reading it.

Professional jealousy isn’t a thing I like about myself. When I was in high school, I collected articles about authors who had published very young, like S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders was published when she was 18) or Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (her first novel was published when she was 15). These examples only served to make me feel like a failure before I had even graduated high school. I still get jealous when I hear of a debut author whose first novel was bought for three figures at auction.

More recently, I find comfort in articles about authors who were rejected over 100 times, or this interview with YA author T.E. Carter where she mentions having written 18 novels before she got one published. I have to constantly remind myself that my journey is not going to be the same as anyone else’s, that someone might look at what I did over the last decade and think I was so much more successful than they were.

I’m trying to make my peace with the situation: I have plenty of other novels to revise and query, and new ideas popping up all over the place. Maybe in a few years I’ll dust off this work-in-progress and give it another go, and maybe by the time I finish it, the YA market will be ready for another novel about the infamous Blood Countess.

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