Hey, you, and you, and you, get off of my cloud.
The funny thing about trying to be unique is that you set yourself up for failure by striving to embody a word that amounts to very little. “Unique.” And its synonyms don’t do much in the way of clearing things up. Sure “idiosyncratic” may sound more intelligent, “distinctive” more highbrow, but these words are sort of shallow in comparison to what they are trying to portray: A compulsive, human need to establish oneself from everyone else.
With several preceding centuries of people, how can anyone hope to be 100 percent different? Even people who find themselves terribly successful today are described in terms of others. As a writer, musician, actor, artist etc. there is a fine line between evident influence and inadequate mimicry. A fledgling musician likened to the Beatles is probably good (if you, you know, are into that sort of thing), but certainly not alone. A newby writer, the new Hemingway? Probably gaining respect in small circles but isn’t making any money.
So how can you be successfully different? How do you become the first of your kind, without letting those you admire overshadow your work? Then again, how do you avoid the Kafka fate? Posthumous respect is great and all but….
Personally, I think the “nothing is new” idea is a cop-out. It’s an excuse to stop trying to discover anything and to start drinking. Heavily. Which, then again, if you are a musician or a writer or a painter or anything else remotely artistic, this may propel you in the right direction. If I’ve learned anything from Bukowski.