Alex Cavanaugh's Music Blogfest last week got me thinking about music... and particularly about cover songs. It was interesting looking at people's lists, and interesting, sometimes, to see that people liked different versions of the same song. Yet, really, they're the same song - what's the difference? What separates them?
In the end it can be quite a lot. And it struck me that this is sort of the same for writing, for stories and narrative ideas. It is possible to write something totally original, but it's challenging. But it's also possible to take something familiar and do that, but it only works if you can transform it, if you can add something unique and wholly yourself to bring new originality to old familiarity.
Video illustrations! Check the original, and then check the cover song...
Same song. Same notes and melody. But it's utterly transformed by the voice and vision of the artist. And this is so much like writing. There's something unique in each voice, and as writers we have to find and use this. What do we bring to make something new? Pace?
Check the original, and then check the cover...
Take an already fast pace... and then crank it up even further. But it's also about tone and pronunciation and voice. It's about seeing through something to a new world beyond. It's about turning left when everyone has always turned right.
This, I think, is how familiar stories are reconstituted, are made new again. Why are basic formulas so strong in stories, endlessly reused? Why does a love triangle work? It's because such concepts are open, available to be transformed by each and every unique voice.
Yet it's easy to fall into simple imitation, grasping at the familiar, following the well worn path. How do we move beyond that? How do we see something new in the familiar?
What about you? How do you find your way through the rabbit-hole of the familiar?