So here's what happens. You write a novel and you Love it. Capital L Love it. You revise it and work it and cherish it more than your neighbor cherishes their red-headed stepchild*. Then, you're in Borders, or on Goodreads, or out on the blogosphere and you hear about another book that's published (or about to be). And it sounds Just. Like. Yours.
Well yesterday I made chili for the first time ever... from scratch. (I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.) I got a bunch of ingredients, browned some ground beef, and threw everything together in a crockpot and let it sit on low for 8 hours. Man did my house smell good. I was pumped because Nelson loves chili and I love when I impress him with my (every once in a while) culinary finesse.
Then I remembered that while Liz, my sister, was here visiting for 6 weeks she made chili too. And it was friggin' incredible. Really, I mean just D-E-licious. Nelson loved it. The huge batch she made was gone in less than two days, mostly thanks to him. And BAM! the self-doubt came barreling in**. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but I was nervous that my chili wouldn't measure up... or that he would think I copied her recipe.
But a few seconds later I laughed at myself. Because really, when have two chili recipes ever tasted the exact same? Sure, many bowls taste similar to one another--but mostly that's a GOOD thing for people who enjoy that particular type of chili. And within the realm of chili, there are So. Many. Different. Ingredients.
Stories are just like that. Even if there are hundreds of books being written/published with the same sort of premise as yours, it's what you add to it—your blend of ingredients—that will make it unique.
So take a deep breath... Believe in yourself and in your batch of chili.
And in case you need another nudge on this, check out the stellar guest post on agent Rachelle Gardner's blog about the trap you fall into when comparing yourself to other writers.
*I can make red-head jokes. My husband has beautiful red hair and I asked his permission.
** Okay, I realize that this self-doubt is nowhere NEAR the level that writers go through, but it's all for the sake of the comparison!