I Want to be the First Cow

Ha! Gotcha! I know you just wanted to know what the heck I was talking about "being the first cow." O how I adore your curiosity. :)

I hope that I shall not disappoint.

Last week I was sitting in one of my classes and my professor was covering Matthew Arnold's thoughts on good literature. He believed that good art is developed by independent thoughts. True enough, right? I agree. Arnold went on to give specific examples of passages from the masters like Shakespeare and Dante, but the passages weren't your ordinary beloved ones. They were interesting descriptions using unusual words and/or syntax.

My interests were peaked. I had been working on (now completed) a paranormal short story where I focused on pulling every unique description that I could. It was a bit of a challenge. But I enjoyed it, and it turned out well.

Arnold ended up not being able to tell his readers what exactly makes good literature, but my professor believes (and so do I) that Arnold just wanted something different. He thought a sign of good writing is something that he had never read before. No cliches. Nothing reminiscent of another work. Now that's good writing.

My professor said that Arnold was against the herding mentality. You know, where one cow sees a couple of delicious looking blades of grass and wonders over to this beautiful patch and takes a bite, but then the other cows get wind of the greener grass and want a piece of it too. It sort of reminds me of how after the Twilight series, suddenly vampire books were being written and submitted at incredible volume. Everyone wanted a piece of the phenomenon. I remember reading agents' submission guidelines and them specifically saying they didn't want the next vampire book. It had gotten that bad.

As writers, we don't need to piggy back on someone else's creative ideas. We need to be the first one to have them. We need to see the potential and greatness in something that we've never heard or seen before. We need to embrace the unusual/independent thoughts that cross our minds daily. No one is void of weirdness, so embrace it. Write it. Live it, for goodness sake. Be who you are and write your ideas. Be inspired by your life which is unique to you.


Happy writing, friends.


Ashley Chappell said...

Ack! The dilemma... If I say I want to be a cow, too, does that mean I'm piggy backing? Then I want to be the first leopluridon! :-)

Great post, as always!

Farrah P said...

What a great post!

Shannon Lawrence said...

The first cow drew me in, but this was a great post! You're right, we need to always be striving for original ideas, original ways to get those ideas across.

RD Meyer said...

I guess the most frustrating part is when you have what you think is an original idea, only to find that others have had your brainstorm as well.

Basically, you've gotten to the field and find that all your eating is regurgitated cud.

Vanessa Eccles said...

Thanks for commenting everyone, and I'm glad that ya'll enjoyed the post. You've made my day. Consider yourselves loved. :)

RD Meyer- I can understand the frustration in that. But even if we find out that our idea is similar to someone else's, maybe we can tell it in a different way.