Well ain’t this just a kick in the pants. So, The Amazing Wife and I went to Barnes and Noble last night (despite their betrayal, grrr), and I noticed an endcap display in honor of Ray Bradbury (whom, as I’m sure everyone knows, passed away last week). He was probably the biggest influence on me, both as a reader and a writer. (Poe a semi-close second.) I discovered him when I was in 5th grade, and his stories affected me so deeply, so fundamentally, part of me has tried tried to write like him ever since. And, his stories, the themes and word-paintings, informed the way I appreciated science fiction and fantasy from then on. …the types of stories I would most gravitate toward and read.
So, I flipped through one of the books of stories to look for “All Summer in a Day” (probably the most emotional, heart-touching and -breaking story of his I ever read, both as a young person who cried at the end of it, and still today). And I came across a story of his I also read as a pre-teen and completely forgot about: “The End of the Beginning.”
Now, if you’re a fan of mine (i.e.: a family member reading my blog out of a sense of duty), that title may sound familiar. I sold a story to M-BRANE SF in 2009 titled the same thing! (Also now conveniently collected in the book, First Hand of the Night. Hey, a guy’s gotta pay rent!) I had to read the first few paragraphs in order to remember it, and while the plot remained fuzzy, the tone and theme and feeling of the story came back to me. At first I was horrified that I’d named a story the same as my idol. What would people think? Would they think I was trying to, at best, compare myself to the great man? Or, at worst, have the audacity to think I could supplant him?! Then, I recalled, the story was bought by a scifi mag, it went through a general writing workshop and even a scifi-focused workshop, and no one in all that time mentioned, “Hey, isn’t there a Bradbury story named the same thing?” So, I guessed I was probably safe from too much ire at recognition.
But then, as I recalled the Bradbury story, I realized that even through the distance and fog of time and forgetfulness, my own story was in a way a modern answer to the issues he had posed in his story decades ago. No, not an “answer” like: “We need an answer for the problem of social malaise!” But rather, a personal response to those questions and themes he suggested. As I read his, and I recalled mine, they’re very completely different stories in plot — but I feel they’re cousins in theme. Although, his is certainly the better-written one, I readily and gladly admit! After all, he’s the grandmaster!
That said, I really should have Googled my story’s title before I applied it. If I had, I would have certainly avoided naming it the exact same thing, and would have probably used something like: “Moby Dick.” That’s available, right? No, seriously, maybe something like, “The End Continues.” Oooh, I like that!