I’m almost afraid to write another post here after the response to my last post. You might be tempted to ask “What response?” since only two people put comments on the blog. But if you count the private e-mails, PMs, and phone calls, then it would easily qualify as the hottest post I’ve ever written. There were the people who felt like they’d been plagiarized expressing their feelings and fears and asking for advice (my response: I sympathize, but have no advice). There were the people who said plagiarism within fanfic is perfectly fine (I agree to disagree). There was the writer who said they only did it to show respect for earlier fanfics (I suggested that the writers of the earlier fanfics could be credited directly in that case). There was the writer who, on re-reading one of my books, realized she’d unconsciously been influenced by a couple of my scenes and offered to change them (I told her they were fine and commended her honesty and sense of responsibility).
And this was all within the JAFF community. I hadn’t realized this was a hot button in the community and I had no idea how many people have been biting their tongues about plagiarism. I really was just talking about my experience at the conference, but I got to the point that I felt like half the community thought I was talking about them because I thought they’d plagiarized someone, that I’d noticed that their story had been plagiarized, or that I was accusing them of plagiarizing me. Nothing of the kind – I really was talking about Nora Roberts and my personal reaction to her.
As a JAFF public service announcement, if you feel you’ve been plagiarized or someone has plagiarized you, the admins or mods of the site where the plagiarizing story appears are the appropriate people to contact as a first step. Each site has its own way of dealing with plagiarism, but I imagine they’ve all run up against it. If you’re not satisfied by that resolution, the next step would be to have your beta contact the writer involved to ask about whether they’d noticed the similarity. As I can tell you from personal experience, the worst approach is from writer to writer, because you’re both so personally involved and it can end up being very divisive and painful to all concerned, and it usually doesn’t lead to resolution.
But most people don’t come to this blog to read about plagiarism, but to hear about writing. As for actual writing, I have very little to report, but this week I’ve started The Artist’s Way program for freeing creativity in artists who are stuck. The program’s been around for years, and can be done individually out of the book of the same name, which is what I’m doing. I think it’s working; my characters are talking to me more than they have in a long time and I feel like I have a better handle on what makes my muse go away so much. Like any other program, The Artist’s Way has sections that I don’t find relevant to my own experience, but the parts that are new to me have been rather eye-opening.
This is the exercise that has been hardest for me, hands down. List 10 things you wouldn’t ordinarily do but that you’d enjoy trying if you didn’t care what anybody thought of you and you had infinite possibilities – examples could be scuba diving, buying cowboy books, karaoke, directing a play, take a drawing class. Try it. It’s harder than you think.