Of course I've been here many times before. I'm sure a lot of us have. You come up with an original idea, linked to another original idea, but somehow the combination of the two ideas makes it look like you ripped something off.
Maybe it was something you'd never heard of. Doesn't matter. Forever after there'll be that doubt in people's minds, possibly even your own... had you read or seen something and then forgotten it... was it subconscious?
Or maybe - and this is the really galling one - it's something that didn't fricking exist when you had your idea and someone else came up with it subsequently. Because your thing is unpublished, chances are no one ripped you off, it's just an unfortunate coincidence. But because your thing is unpublished and theirs very obviously isn't, nobody's going to believe that.
And sometimes, let's face it, the waters are muddier anyway. You were inspired by something else, maybe the other writers were too. (That's usually the answer to improbable conspiracy theories like how James Cameron ripped off the Jon Pertwee Day of the Daleks serial when he wrote The Terminator.)
So here's the thing. The boys just got me to watch the trailer for the new Stranger Things, the first series of which had at least partly inspired my coming-of-age-with-alien-invasion-except-not-really novella 76. And of course it looks like there's going to be a setting in the next series that's taken straight out of my story: the open air swimming pool with the morally compromised, Aviator-shaded lifeguard.
Not too surprising. There were a lot more open air swimming pools in the old days and I daresay a lot more morally compromised lifeguards as well. Plus, for all I know, this scene is pretty much irrelevant to the rest of the action in Series 3; it hasn't aired yet, after all.
But that's the point: I'm just getting my disclaimer in early. There's a key scene in 76 that's set at the Upper Deck swimming pool by Molesey Lock - long vanished now beneath neo-neo-Georgian commuter apartments but once the venue for many a heart-stopping drama of one kind or another. And it's not in there because of Stranger Things or Stephen King or anybody else. It's in there because it happened.
More or less.
Photo credit here: http://www.moleseyhistory.co.uk/pictures/pages/S03_0505B.htm
I've been writing for as long as I can remember (I think my first letter was a P). I got a degree writing about other people's writing and ever since then I've earned a living writing commercially, one way or another. But I never stopped writing and refining my own stuff. I just didn't do anything with it, until now.