It is always difficult when you see something broadcast or read something published that is remarkably close to a project that you have been working on for ages yourself. Detective Nicely Strongoak himself was delayed for many, many years (and had to change markedly) because of the success of another Terry that blew a lot of my ideas out of water.
I’m sure most writers have digital piles of manuscripts that were completed just at the wrong time. It can’t be helped – as much as you want to blame the mind-reading aliens or Network spies, that’s the nature of ideas. They come to fruition at similar times because waves of writers tend to get inspired by the same thing and sit and cogitate on them for similar times. Either that or the muse is a bit of a trollop and not at all faithful to you!
My ‘been done’ script pile is bigger than my ‘to pitch’ pile. This even includes a radio comedy serial on a subject so unlikely that I thought nobody else could ever think of it. I got a producer and production company interested in my idea and the next week the producer heard the Radio 4 show on the same subject. And it was pants – he told me, I couldn’t listen.
What do you do?
The only conciliation is if the series that comes out is marvellous, even better than your idea. Which brings me to Stewie Griffin. I usually only collect animation production cels, but I made an exception for this little beauty.
And that’s even though I had written a spec script based around this preternaturally intelligent smart-talking child with a very British accent. I scrapped the script and to be honest I didn’t care; Stewie is so much better than what I had written. It doesn’t hurt so much when it happens like that, not so much.