On Writing

I’m a fledgling writer, the sort of fella who took his time not introducing pencil and paper but spent time wanting and trying to do so, and you could say I’ve just jumped on the wagon. Reading, that s an entirely different story. My parents like to say I started scanning ink at 2 years old, so that amounts to 23 years of literature love, two thirds of this probably spent sleeping and reading. I am familiar with all the horror stories about being a writer, and am glad I am not writing for monetary gain. This might change someday, though.

There is one thing I am afraid of when it comes to writing: unconscious plagiarism.  I’ve read so many books and when I began jotting down my thoughts, I would write things that elicited a flooding of deja vu. When I was in high school, I wrote a journal entry a page long. I had just discovered Bradbury, and wanted to write something in the vein of his style. It was a short story of sorts, entitled ‘The Long Hot Summer’ about a couple sipping tea on a backyard hill, watching the sunset of the world at the verge of atomic war. My teacher sent me to the principal’s office and accused me of plagiarism. She said that it was so well written it couldn’t have come from a high schooler. Perhaps it was the title; there’s a movie with the same title. Now that I think about it… perhaps her response to this entry was what sidetracked my writing vigor for so long; the adolescent mind is fragile. I still wonder to this day whether I unwittingly sucked up the premises of this story from some other author, or poured it out of myself.

Writers, if any read this, what’s your take on this? Have you experienced such sensations? Is unconscious plagiarism grounds for defamation?

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3 responses to “On Writing

  1. I dunno if you know about this, but the same thing happened to Helen Keller. She uninentionally plagiarised a short story, the difference was the title of the story. She was a young kid who was writing for a contest I believed, and the story was so well written yet familiar, after searching for where the story came from. They discovered at Anne read her that book in Helens first few months of grasping language. It was ingrained in her mind, yet she didnt remember “hearing” the book.

    With you it could happen either way, you have a gift with words. Maybe you did write it completly from your own brain, but then again maybe it was unconscious, you cant possibly remember every word youve read in your life.

    To be honest all books, movies, plays, and any written words are plagiarised in some form, unintentionally or intentionally.

  2. I didn’t know that. Did she do it verbatim? That’d have been really remarkable, although I’m not saying it wasn’t already remarkable to begin with that she stored the story inside her brain so shortly after acquiring language. The new presence of words must have been so definitive to her way of life (duh me, of course! Language does that to a person), for it to be ingrained like that.

    You give me too much credit, as usual, but the thought is appreciated. I would seriously hope that my story was original, even though the idea was borrowed from another.

    All forms of ideas are like genetics, a multitude of miscegenation upon miscegenation, the current form drifting like duckweed on the flood of history. I like this this century, as it’s a fruitful time for writers: the potential for allusion is limitless.

  3. That’s kind of interesting.
    I myself sort of am thinking ‘I want to get things published someday.” One fear I have is that kids go on the internet looking for poems or w/e and they print out my stuff and use it. Why… do I think of that? Because, I’ve had someone ask if they could do so.
    So many people probably just don’t ask… or mention the author’s name, or whatever. I KIND of want credit for my mind’s scribbles. Kind of…

    :/

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