portion of Portage Near Falls of Grand'Mere, St Maurice River,
oil on canvas, 1855,
Collection of the Power Corporation of Canada.
Many of us, in the lee of the Edwards plagiarism case, have expressed concern over the inadvertent repetition in our own works of another's words.
However, as Ello put it on Angie's Desk, with profound good sense,"you could possibly have never read a book and come up with a similar line. A similiar sentence can happen simply because of the amount of written work out there."
Case in point.
Last year while contemplating an opening for a piece of flash fiction for one of Jason's contests, I came up with the line In the blue of the moon they howled and hunted for my entry, Trolleri.
Just previous to that several blogs had discussed moon names and the origin of the expression once in a blue moon. In a thought process perfectly familiar to all writers, I played about with that image.
I was quite pleased with the result, actually, because I'd never read that particular take before.
After the Edwards case erupted, however, I googled.
The full sentence remained pristine and unimpaired.
Depending on whether one searches for the blue of the moon or in the blue of the moon, one may find from ten to seventy results, from everything from a film and photo processing site concerned with light filters, to a re-telling of an Ojibwa tale, to a fanfic verse adaptation of a vampire anime. Some entries older than my use, some later.
Not original after all? Obviously.
Plagiarism? Not on your life.
Not even a case of "borrowing."
I never heard of those sites and I'm equally certain the latter ones never read mine. Quite likely they never read each other's sites, either.
Writers should neither cower in hand-wringing humiliation because phrases from their works are not as exclusive as they hoped, nor huff indignantly about plagiarism if they see the odd phrase repeated elsewhere.
Minds do think alike. Even small ones like mine.