Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the theft of words

you want the truth? I forgot about plagiarism.

I'm not in high school or college anymore. the word stopped being something I heard all the time. but somehow, it was one of those things that slipped away from me.

plagiarism is one of those things that almost seems surreal. it's the concept of taking the work of someone else and putting it out into the world under your name. in the literary world, it's the taking of words. someone else's words, breathed from their spirit, and putting your name on them.

it's theft.

and then it happened today, right in front of my nose. a post made its way around the internet, a good post, one that felt familiar but it felt good also. I shared it, so did others. we commented and ooh'd and ahh'd and tweeted the link to our corner of the internet. and then today, we understood why it felt so familiar.
{photo by Jennifer Upton}

someone else had written it, long before it made its way to this new space. the words we were sharing, they didn't belong to this new voice. they were taken. stolen.

it makes me feel like I'm watching The Little Mermaid. a voice stolen, pulled from a throat and swallowed down into someone else's body. it's a deeply personal destruction. if you take someone's television or their wallet, you're taking a piece of earth. something physical, something replaceable.

when you take someone else's words, you're taking a piece of spirit, a piece of themselves. sometimes, it's not replaceable. the words can be repeated, but there is something deeper taken. it's a guttural, visceral violation.

i don't understand why it's ever done.


there's a big lie out there, one that seems to slip in among the writers like poison gas that can kill us while we are completely unaware. it's the lie that you don't have words. it's the lie that you have no story, that you have nothing to say of worth. it's the lie that your words don't exist.

but there's something we've forgotten. there was a Voice in the beginning, speaking words over empty space and watching light and earth and sea and sky and plants and creatures appear from the void. simply through words. His words. His song.

and then, on the sixth day, there came more words: come and let Us make man in Our own image. hands and words joined together, art of a whole different sort began. He spoke, and there was Life.

do you know what that means? do you understand?

{photo by Jennifer Upton}
you are made of words. 

your skin. your soul. your wild parts, your sacred parts, your everyday parts. it's all words. they're waiting, lingering just beneath the surface. you have your own words.

you don't need someone else's words to make you a writer. 

you have a story. it's pulsing beneath the surface. you have thoughts, points, valid observations about the world around you. you have a voice. and maybe it's a little rusty from lack of use. maybe it's a little skittish because of the way you were treated. maybe it's a little soft because you weren't taught how to raise it up.

but it's there.

you don't need someone else's words to make you a writer because you already have your own.

because you already are your own

1 comment:

  1. I think I saw that post referenced too. :( Sad. And now that person has to deal with being seen as a ripper of words. Praying for grace for all involved and for lessons to be noted for the rest of us too. I love your insight that we don't need anybody else's words because we already have our own.


I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon