Cake By Any Other Hands

I could do this. With some time, money, strawberries, cake, and Duff Goldman.

I rarely purchase bakery cake.

There are two reasons for this.  One is because bakery cake gets expensive, and two is because I think I can make pretty good cake on my own.  I’ve been told that my cake is life altering.  This got me thinking this morning as I stood in line for the bakery cake I had ordered and paid through the nose for, about writing and how it can be a lot like ordering cake, or making it yourself.

First there is convenience.  Starting with ideas that other people have come up with is convenient as hell.  Fanfiction is a prime example of this.  You are allowed to take a world that already has rules and characters, and make it into something that pleases you with a minimum of fuss.  Sure, you are sacrificing artistic integrity, but is it any worse than paying $32.99 for  cake a shade of chartreuse that you could not manage in your own kitchen?  It is also handy to know that you can always go back to the source work, and siphon off just a little more if need be.

On the other side of the convenience coin is satisfaction.  Does it satisfy you to work within someone else’s world and rules, just like it satisfies you to bring in a beautiful cake to work, say on the last day of your department’s long-suffering temp (so sorry Ashley) and then have to admit you got it at a bakery?  The spice of satisfaction, the essence of being able to claim something as your own is gone.  Nobody will ooh and ahh over your confectionary skills, because in the end, you did nothing but pay for the damn thing.  The same thing, in concept, can be said about writing using someone else’s source-work.

Now, I can hear you all saying:  “But Monica, what about things you have enjoyed, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies“?  Okay, I admit I enjoyed it.  But I don’t have any respect for the author.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to remove the words peasants and townspeople and replace them with zombies, scourges, and the undead.  That’s what the fine and replace feature is for in Word.  The fact of the matter is, you can’t be as satisfied with such an endeavor.

Before I get any angry comments, I will admit, there is something satisfying about writing fanfiction or amalgams of a new idea and something already published.  You get to finish the story the way you would have preferred.  You no longer have to rely on your imaginary endings to make things go right.  And you get to see your favorite characters in adventures that the author may never have considered.  In the end, you could come up with something seriously clever and entertaining and even better, profitable.

But in the end, you have bakery cake.  You have someone else’s work with your name on it.  And that, my friends, smells like the stench of mediocrity that follows Lindsay Lohan around like a blind poodle.

Take some pride.  Write it yourself.  Bake your own cake.  And get the kudos you so desperately deserve.

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