That Premise Sounds Awfully Familiar...

I got an e-mail from a friend the other day. She had sent me a link, saying, Read this. Normally I would never actually click on it, but I trust her. So I did. She had found a website describing a new Y.A. book that will be coming out soon. As I scanned the words on the screen, I felt my stomach sink. The premise was eerily identical to the novel I'm currently working on. 

My immediate irrational response was outrage. This author somehow got into my private computer on the other side of the world, dug through my files and found my W.I.P, and used the idea I - and I alone - could only come up with. Yes, I'm human, what can I say? After that stupidity wore off, I then thought, Well, crap. Here I had spent so much time and effort working on this, and it turns out it's not so original after all.

So the question now is, should I bother to finish writing the book? I'm at 58,000 words, I know these characters and this story. But with a title already out into the world, is there any point? Judging from blog posts I've read in the past, this happens to writers pretty often. Others have faced this question, this decision. If you ever find yourself at this crossroads one day, think of these two things:

1. "There are no original ideas, just original voices."

As some of my friends have pointed out, if I set out to find an idea that no one has ever thought of before, I would never write a book. Not one. The quote above is one of my favorites, even if I can't find who said it for the life of me. Because it's so, so true. Two writers can take the same idea and it's a guarantee they won't write the same story. So who cares if we're both writing about purple hippos? I'll probably send my hippo off to a war over a swamp and the other writer will probably teach the reader a lesson in sharing with the other hippos. (Don't you just love the examples I come up with? Seriously.)

2. The reason for writing.

Honestly, I didn't have to agonize over this decision for very long. When I remember why I write, it was easy. I don't write focused on the goal of publication. It's something I would love to happen, yes, and I'm working towards it. But the reason I write a story is because I'm driven by the characters and what happens to them. The writing itself is my passion. So my answer to this is, yes, I will finish the book. It may not be one I will show to others or try to pursue for publication. But I will have the satisfaction of knowing I've done these people in my head justice.