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This Week on Writers Abroad
Category: Site News

This week begins with some searching questions for us from Crilly on borrowing and plagiarism. 

Diane optimistically (weatherwise!) gives us some Spring/Easter muses. Here it is finally Winter, with blue skies and crisp temperatures. The summery photo is especially encouraging!

Kaleidescope is now in kindle format with Amazon.

Several members have written on writing goals. 

Plenty of possibilities still from Jo for January Writing Challenges. So far Alyson and Sue have drafts for feedback. Angela has also posted in General The Colm Toibin Short Story Award inviting submissions on the experience of rootlessness. A natural appeal for WA!

Jo announces revision of the WA Site. And Vanessa gives us the New Members Site Guide.

Finally there is a Formal Chat on Sunday 24th at 11.00 am.

All good wishes for writing this week. 

 

 

Guilty or Not Guilty... Tags: Voice plagiarism Borrowing words

‘And how do you plead?’ The elderly judge peered over his half-rimmed glasses at the defendant.

‘Guilty, Your Honour.’ The woman in the dock lowered her head.

‘I find you guilty of stealing ideas and borrowing words. Accepting help but claiming work as your own. You are sentenced to an indeterminate amount of proof reading. Case dismissed.’

Gathering his briefcase the judge stepped down from the Bench and swept out of the court.

Many years ago, I wrote a children’s story about a tennis ball that lost its fluff. I called him Freddy Fur-off. The loss of fluff came about as he was stuck on the roof during an extremely wet winter. He was finally saved by a very resourceful possum.

At that time I was nursing a very old lady who happened to be a very good writer and a published poet. She had taught English at the local university and offered to take a look at my story. I was delighted and willingly handed over the manuscript. We became friends and spent many happy hours working on the story. Her advice was always very welcome and often I made the changes she recommended.

About five years ago she passed away and as is my way, I moved on to other writing.

Recently, when tidying up my shed I came across Freddy and after brushing off the dust and re-reading it, found the ‘voice’ of the story was not mine. I could not hear nor feel very much of myself in the tale. The words felt foreign, the phrasing at odds with the way I would structure a sentence. Better perhaps, but not me.

This caused me to wonder about how honest we are as writers? How original is our creation when there are manuscript assessment agencies, editors and myriad types of help to fine-tune and embroider our work?

When we see a brilliant description or sentence do we file it away sub-consciously only to re-jig it later and claim it as our own? I am not suggesting any of this is plagiarism but maybe a mild kind of paraphrasing.

The late George Harrison found himself in trouble over supposed plagiarism. It was claimed the song he wrote, ‘My Sweet Lord’ had the same melody as ‘He’s So Fine’ which came out some years earlier and was sung by the Chiffons. George was ultimately charged with ‘subconscious plagiarism.’

http://entertainment.time.com/2012/11/08/you-didnt-write-that-a-brief-guide-to-alleged-pop-plagiarism/slide/george-harrison-my-sweet-lord/

Is there a danger we will lose our self/voice by taking on board too many suggestions? Has this happened to you and the originality of your work been compromised?

Guilty or not guilty - only the defendant (the author) can decide.

 

 

Always read the small print....
Category: Writing

It's 12.50 a.m. and I'm scribbling away so that I can post this in the morning.

A few minutes ago I had checked the day's emails and there was one from Jo reminding me it was my turn to write the blog. The late log in was due to having elder son and family here with us. Personal time is at a premium when you have a teenager (almost adult but not quite), plus a terrible two (but gorgeous), and a nine month old (super), prioritising for you. All boys, I might add!

I had checked the planner twice in the last week, in case of any changes, most recently on Sunday, and quite smugly announced I had nothing to do until March.

Oops! Back to the planner I went and couldn't see my name. Then I noticed the small print, 'more'. A magic click and there I was - Blog Chris N. I also discovered I am doing This Week on the 1st of February.

Now I like to consider myself a seasoned member of WA so how, I'm asking myself, did I manage to miss my blog spot? Easily, it would seem.

This brings me to the tour of the site which we are currently looking at with a view to updating. It is a long time since I even glanced at it but when I read through it as sent by Jo, I thought it comprehensive and quite easy to follow.

That point brings me to the other problem I experienced in my early, and not so early days, as a WA member. I would have difficulty posting my muse. A number of times I sent it to Jo as I could not see it on the page. Not once did I go back and look at the tour - I believe I had even forgotten it was there.

Now that could be just me as I am not good with technical things and tend to have a mini panic if something doesn't go according to plan rather than keep cool and go through options logically. I do think I am much better now and I thank WA, and its knowledgeable members for that.

The point I feel, is the tour, or similar, is a valuable tool, but so is the buddy system. No two people learn and understand in the same way. We all need different styles of input as we take away different things.

I will end now apologizing profusely for being a day late and promise to remember to read the 'small print'.  

 

 

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