IWSG: My novel is now royally effed...

IWSG Post
 My first IWSG post couldn't have come at a better (or worse time).

I completed my rough draft of this novel in 2009 during my first NaNoWriMo. Years earlier I worked at a medical supply and I had to watch an employee safety video for home nurses and it was all about checking under your car and in your backseat before getting into the car. It was designed to create horror and paranoia. I scribbled on one of my many scraps of paper that it would be a funny idea if the person in the backseat were the victim and the driver was dangerous. That idea became my first novel, a romance about an accidental carjacking in Detroit.

It's my hook and it's a huge part of the entire novel. I worked very hard to come up with a believable premise as to why my hero would be in the backseat of his car. I have labored over every scene and built a friendship between unlikely characters.

Tonight (I'm writing this a hair before midnight) a friend of mine informed me that she saw a television show that had a romantic episode with my EXACT PREMISE. I do mean exact. The episode aired in 2012.

It's enough to make a writer reflux and cry, which is actually what I'm doing right now.

I've been tooling around with this novel for three and a half years. Eight months ago I finally started making headway on my editing and I've been rewriting like crazy. I really thought I had something unique and funny. And now I find out that my brilliant gem is going to look like costume jewelry from the dollar store.

I have no idea what to do or how to proceed. I'm so disgusted with myself for not getting on the ball and getting my novel ready to publish two years ago. Now no matter what, it will look like I stole my premise from the show.

My friend who dropped the bomb on me suggested I move on and work with the pieces. So easy. Just rewrite the thing you've bled over. I know it's a romance novel and not highfalutin' literature but it's my greatest achievement, something I dreamed of creating and putting out there since I was twelve years old. And now I just have to throw it out and start over.

My stomach is burning and in a big knot. I'm at a complete loss.

What the hell do I do now?