with-every-intention-plagiarism-stealing-words

Stolen Words

I’m not big on posting the same thing in two places, but considering the fact that my post was actually snagged off of this blog, I’m re-posting my thoughts here.

Recently I discovered that one of my blog posts had been copied onto someone else’s website.  Literally, just copied and pasted, photos and all.  When I discovered it, by a random fluke, I felt rather violated…and annoyed.  It felt like high school all over again.

{*the names have all been changed in this story to protect the innocent and the accused*}

Back then, before the days of blogging and social media, I wrote poetry…you know, with a pencil and paper.  Every now and then I’d get all fancy and type it up on the computer and decorate it with clip art.  Clearly I thought I had been gifted with Kvasir’s blood as I had the tendency to express my thoughts and then share those writings with others as if I possessed all wisdom and empathy.  I thought I had a gift and it was my duty to share it.

One day I walked into my 9th grade Literature class and everyone was hovering around my friend Amelia.  I joined the group and nudged the girl next to me, “What’s going on?” I whispered.

“Oh, it’s Amelia.  Remember how Luke broke up with her?  Well he wrote her this incredibly sweet and romantic poem to tell her how much he has missed her and she’s considering taking him back.”

I leaned further in.  Everyone was reading over Amelia’s shoulder and oohing and ahhing.  I started to read it and was swept away by his emotion.

Until I realized.

That wasn’t his emotion.  That was mine.

Amelia looked up and caught my eye.  (I’ve never been good at hiding my feelings so the shock must have been written all over me).  “What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Where’d you get that poem?”  I managed.

“Luke wrote it for me.  Isn’t it incredibly sweet?”

“No, it’s incredibly deceitful.”

Shocked gasps from all around.

“I wrote that,”  I said.

More shocked gasps.

“But I don’t understand how he got his hands on it,” I added, “the only person I’ve ever showed it to was Nikki.”  In a moment of heartfelt empathy, I had shared a poem with Nikki expressing my loss over a recent breakup I had just gone through to help her feel…I don’t know…solidarity.  Compassion.  Understanding.

Amelia stood up and marched right out the door.  We followed.  She approached Luke with her typical Amelia attitude and demanded to know where he got the poem.  He stuttered that he’d written it to show his devotion and love for her.  She called him a liar.  She told him she knew he hadn’t written it.  Finally he caved.  “Nikki wrote it.  She gave me a copy of it and told me I could use it to win you back.  I had the best of intentions.”

Amelia crumpled the paper and threw it in his face.  “Those aren’t even her words.  She stole them before she pawned them off on you.  I couldn’t possibly get back with someone who keeps company like that.”  And off she stormed.

It sounds a bit like a soap opera, I know.  But that’s how it happened and for 14 years I didn’t show a word of my writing to another soul, afraid my thoughts might be paraded around carelessly or stolen by some undeserving person.  I stuffed all of my old poems in a binder and shoved them in the back of my closet.  I kept journals but destroyed most of them.  I wrote poems but crumpled them up and threw them out.  I penned long letters and can only assume that those have found themselves buried deep within some landfill.

14 years passed and I forgot about the incident.  The stolen poem.  MY stolen words.  I had my first two babies.  Facebook launched.  Blogging took the world of stay-at-home moms by storm.  Suddenly there was a platform for writing that gave anyone who had something to say an instant audience.

At first I stood back.  I signed up for a Facebook account but couldn’t quite bring myself to update my status often.  But the longer I stayed home with my kids, the more I felt a need to communicate, even if only through written word, with the larger world (namely, adults).

So in January of 2010, I finally launched a blog.  In the beginning, I mostly kept my blogs family focused.  I monitored what I said.  I didn’t give much of an opinion or broach controversial topics.  I told myself it was just an online scrapbook…a way to keep track of all the events happening in my kids’ lives without having to dedicate hours to hand writing journals or piecing together scrapbooks.

The years passed and I kept up with my blog sporadically.  I had two more babies.  Some months I wrote often, some times months passed before I wrote.  It was my space to do with as I pleased.  I started writing for Corpus Christi Moms Blog and I found that I had an opinion about some things and I enjoyed expressing that opinion so I started a second blog that was meant to be a more professional platform (the opportunities seemed endless if I ever found time to dedicate myself passionately to writing).

And then it happened.  My blog was pilfered.  Which ironically came during a dark night of writing.  I had depleted myself in so many emotional ways this past year and my blog took the brunt of my exhaustion.  Then to have my hard work stolen so someone else could make money?  I felt defeated.  What was the point of writing if someone could so easily lift my words?  So I used that as my excuse to stop blogging altogether.

And so I have stopped writing and posting.

But now I just can’t.  I miss it.  I may not be the same girl with stars in her eyes who wrote poetry while pretending to take notes in class, but I am still the same girl with a whole lot to say and a whole lot of emotion bubbling beneath my surface.  I have grown in lots of ways as the years have passed and my writing has morphed along with me, leaving behind the notion of having drunk Kvasir’s blood…I know I do not possess all wisdom, nor do my words affect all that read them.  But sometimes they do.  And even when they don’t, they affect me…they help me process my world.

So I’m getting back in the saddle, so to speak.  I’m not waiting another 14 years nor am I reverting back to my pen and pencil.  I’m just here, in this cyber spot, putting my emotions into words.  I wrote them.  And I hope you find joy or comfort or compassion in them.  I hope they speak the words you want to say, but my words and my photos are all copyright protected, so please don’t just take them.  If you’d like to borrow them, please seek permission and acknowledge me as the author.  It’s a small price to pay for admittance into my head ; )

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