What do you do when you read a story that is similar to one of your own ideas and is perfect in almost every way? In some ways its depressing. I begin to think that there is no way that I could write something as strong as this. In some ways its encouraging, because if they did it and it worked well, then I can too.
I just read "Idols" by Tim Gautreaux in the June 22 issue of The New Yorker. One of the most powerful short stories I've read all year and it follows almost the same plot structure as my story, "Red Truck" (not that I'm bragging). Obviously his was done first, and certainly more powerful than mine is considering mine is still in the draft stages. The main character is torn down by his obsession and effectively alienates his only hope in friendship and help. Its beautiful. Depressing, sure, but beautiful in the way well-written stories are. Read it and revel in its greatness.
So, now, what do I do? Do I sit and wallow in the fact that my basic story idea has already been done, and most likely better than I could pull it off? Or do I use this as inspiration to make mine better and more powerful? It's daunting either way you look at it.