The problem with fiction is that it's all been done before!
In case you didn't know already from your own experiences or just common sense - being a fiction writer is hard! It's bad enough that you sit there, staring at the ceiling for hours and waiting for inspiration. It's even worse that once an idea strikes you, you then spend hours trying to develop that idea into a plot that has to fill hundreds of pages of printed text. Also, you have to have these people - called characters - that drive your story forward and give your reader someone to empathize with, love or even hate. But you get all that together after days, weeks, months or even years of blood, sweat and tears only to realize you have a major problem...
Your great work, your time consuming project, your all engrossing existence has been done before! That's right. There is nothing original in what you've done. It's a story that has been told over and over, perhaps as long as thousands of years. Every five to ten years, a new novel comes out with the same basic concept, but with different shades of gray, variations on a theme.
So, what to do?
I myself have struggled with this question time and again. I've started to piece together ideas only to ball them up and go for two points in the wastepaper basket because I realized, "Shit! This is just like..." It is the curse of the fiction writer. Ask yourself, seriously, "Are there any original ideas left?"
If you look at film and television, the answer is unerringly no. Everything now is a reboot, a re-imagining, a rehash or just a plain, old sequel, but this is nothing new. It has been like that for decades. It has just become substantially more pervasive in Hollywood in the last twenty years, largely driven by nostalgia of Gen X producers and directors for a modern telling of their favorite movies as a child in the eighties.
But actually... this is nothing new! It has actually been going on since the beginnings of human civilization. The fact is, we tell and retell these stories because they are great stories. They ring true in our psyches and evoke feelings and thoughts that give meaning to our existence, to the human condition. The key for the fiction writer is to try and tell them in a new way, in a different setting, with different plots and characters that seem more and more human as we continue to revise the theme, as we continue to sharpen the image and bring it into focus.
There is no greater challenge, and surely the success itself is its own reward. Though, suitcases full of money would be nice, too!