IWSG / Paranoia

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

This will be my first IWSG post and as an aspiring author on the verge of self-publishing my first book, I’m finding myself in the insecure category more often than I’d like.

I write in the fantasy genre, and recently I’ve been reading some old fantasy novels I bought back in the 1980s and ’90s that I’d never gotten around to reading before. Every so often, I run across a name or a place or a plot circumstance that is similar to something in my book, and I get really paranoid that I’ll publish my book and then someone will read it and say one of my characters or a part of my story is just like some other novel published years ago (that I’ve never read) and accuse me of plagiarism or of being a copycat and ripping off other authors’ stories or… well you get the idea.

For example, in the book I’m currently reading, Aurian, by Maggie Furey, (published in 1994), I discovered that part of the backstory/history of the main character’s world includes a clash of magical beings referred to as the Cataclysm and Mage Wars. Now my story, that I’ve been working on in bits and pieces for almost thirty years, also has a clash of magics called the Cataclysm. Granted, the Cataclysm in my novel happens on a much smaller scale, but it does similarly involve an ancient race of magical beings whose magical battle also changes the very fiber of a part of my fictional world. And there are Wizard Wars in my novel’s history, as well.

I know Mage/Wizard Wars and magical clashes are not original by any means. But when I read something similar to events or characters in my book — like the use of the word Cataclysm — I get paranoid. Is it just me or does anyone else ever worry about this kind of thing?