Thursday, September 06, 2007

Nothing Ever Dies


The Bluidie Tryst,
Sir Joseph Noel Patton, 1855,
Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.

Sophisticated professionals tsk-tsk about amateur paranoia.

Even laugh outright about writers who are afraid their brilliant opus on the love songs and sex life of Bulgarian tree-frogs will be filched by evil editors.

One may wonder why such unurbane myths persist.

We generally assume such claims and apprehensions are based on an abysmal ignorance of the industry, the conceit of isolation, or just plain conceit.

Amid the fallout from the recent implosion of a certain publisher, from the pile of bloody bodies and radioactive debris, there rose a strong - and specific - suspicion of plagarism: that a submission was stolen and glossed.

It only takes a single incident to give a legend legs.

Just like the opposite belief - that publication equals automatic best-seller - such myths are driven by a constitutional inability to separate the possible from the probable, to recognize exceptions to the rule of thumbs and averages.

So I guess, like the single swallow, these legends will always exist.

13 comments:

Jaye Wells said...

People would be better off worrying about who they chose as critique partners or posting things online.

writtenwyrdd said...

The initial paranoia is easily overcome with a little bit of web research.

But some folks are more paranoid than others.

Plagiarism does occur, but I would propose it is usually unintentional. I'm sure we all have the occasional worry when we write something that it Sounds Familiar. I have to mark those sections and consider revising later until that deja vous (sp) feeling goes away.

Charles Gramlich said...

Pretty much anything that is possible will eventually happen. The question is how often. The amount of effort that some newer writers put into protecting their unpublished material is out of proportion to the liklihood that something bad will happen.

Bernita said...

Quite, Jaye. There are more immediate concerns.

There is also the persistent myth that anything posted on line is free for the taking, Written.
I find it very lowering to come up with a line or phrase I think is very nice and maybe unique and then by googling find it is almost as common as dirt!

So true, Charles!
I tend to find security in my insignificance.

writtenwyrdd said...

Accidental duplication that you describe isn't plagiarism, is it? One phrase or sentence that runs like another you google seems an example of great minds thinking alike.

Demon Hunter said...

As for me, I don't copyright my short stories of my manuscript, BUT I do register my movie scripts...my entertainment lawyer ensured that I do! :*) I know, 2 different mediums, and this why new writers...and old, should conduct research. Great post! :*)

Bernita said...

Nope, it isn't plagarism, Written.
Just a reminder that one isn't quite as original as one might fondly believe.

Thank you, my Demon.
Scripts definitely are a different breed.

raine said...

I'd not heard about this most recent plagiarism charge.
Never a dull moment.
But I like the sound of "unurbane" myths, lol. Maybe I'll use that sometime... ;-)

Jon M said...

The subconscious has to be watched carefully. I once spent a whole evening writing 'Can't help wonder where I'm Bound' so pleased with myself until I remembered that Tom Paxton had a similar idea a couple of decades before me. Must have just seeped in. same with story ideas.

Bernita said...

Hey, Jon, there are no new ideas, just new ways of writing them.

jason evans said...

Less seasoned folks have an inflated view of the worth of their (or any) writing. So much overhead goes into publishing. No one in their right mind would rip off someone's work outright and risk everything for a tiny profit. But then again, since maybe 40% of slushpiles are submissions claiming to be the next Harry Potter, perhaps they worry for good reason. ;)

sex scenes at starbucks said...

The reason I don't worry much about it is because most writers are such creative freaks, they simply aren't capable of using someoe else's ideas to best advantage.

As a writer, I know I must work from my own vision. I also always have so many projects on my plate that stealing one seems crazy.

As an editor reading a sizeable slush, I reckon if the story is that good, I'm gonna buy it anyway.

Also, DH, you're right. Scripts need copywrite protection; fiction manuscripts of all sizes do not.

Bernita said...

Hee, Raine!
I may have read about it on Smart Bitches or Dear Author, or maybe the Erecsite, am not sure which.

It may be more of risk with e-publishers, Jason.

To me, SS, deliberate plagiarism is both an admission and proof of total failure as a writer - quite apart from any morality.