Read e-book Knowing What to Steal: A Short Story

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I had told all of these details to my lover, but he did not record them. What he cared about was the titillation. It seemed like such a loss to me. Another lover decided to recount my experience dieting and re-wrote my weight loss as not forty-five pounds, but almost one hundred pounds! It was, frankly, a little funny, in addition to being insulting. What was left out entirely was the real truth of that transformation, which had more to do with finding my own physical strength, my endurance, myself as an athlete, of understanding how to be a body in a moment instead of operating strictly as a floating head with a troublesome physical container.

There is something undoubtedly icky about reading these renderings of myself. And I am sure the details I steal and the details I leave out are what bother my old lovers as well. But the key difference seems to be that I never questioned their right to write of me as they would, whereas I get letters accusing me of plagiarism for a snippet of dialogue reminiscent of a drunken pseudo-philosophical discussion.

I get fathers who would rather not be my father anymore over a packet of fictional cigarettes. I know firsthand that nothing my old lovers have written about me has taken a single thing from me. My life is unalterably my own. Nor is the violation to be found entirely in taking something private and making it public. I doubt anyone but me can recognize my life in the fictions my lovers have produced. Instead, what seems to be most upsetting is seeing oneself as a Frankenstein: the true and the false sewn together in something that is a likeness without being a portrait.

What the artist has done is not steal, so much as counterfeit, and what bothers the subject is perhaps only the cloying, etheric odor of the unreal. There is, of course, another cultural paradigm for talking about this process of converting life into art: immortalization. Fully one quarter of his surviving poems are about her.

I was not taught that Catullus stole from her, but instead that he had immortalized her, and I never questioned the glamour and gravity of this activity. Women, it would seem, have grown used to being immortalized, or stolen from, whichever term you deem more apt.

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Our thighs are borrowed to make up the painting of a goddess. Our mannerisms and inner thoughts are on loan to the great men of literature. I never questioned that my old lovers had a right to do this to me, because the template for this behavior was as old as civilization itself. We are no longer able to tell the difference between the fact and the fiction. Perhaps part of the problem lies in the nature of fiction itself, an art form which attempts to tell the truth by lying.

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Actually, All Writers Steal

Karl Knausgaard, author of the six-volume highly autobiographical My Struggle , admits the dangers of writing about real people. He waffles between thinking that maybe it is the duty of the writer, and thinking it is a robbery, a violation.


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  • Mainly because there are no new ideas. Also, people considering the same subject matter, will often come up with very similar ideas. I explored this issue when Lost first came out and I found 16 exact scenes in the first season in my first Atlantis novel. But I also had to consider how many total scenes were in the season. I appreciate reading this. Before I put on my tinfoil hat and started yelling that gmail sold NBC my manuscript, I started looking around and found this.

    Two writers will inevitably execute an idea differently. But like you said, the execution will be different. Terrific topic, and terrific answer. How many extra ideas did you have to add? I think you guys are spot on. Right on Jane. I do a lot of business writing, and that is where I see a lot of content theft.

    Thanks for the reminder!


    • Catherine of Deepdale.
    • Stealing Stories.
    • „Wir suln loben den heiligen geist“ - Der Stricker als Vermittler geistlicher Inhalte (German Edition).
    • For a writer, the term should be long enough to likely be unique: a full sentence, say, rather than just a word or two. This is not the same as stealing fiction, but a year ago, someone who attended one of my workshops wrote a blog post about it that shared every point I made, bullet by bullet, as well as my handouts, word for word. A little birdie reported it to me. I contacted the conference coordinator, and she in turn asked the blogger to take it down.

      She did. She was a new writer and thought she was being complimentary. As for me someone who speaks frequently! I agree, Jane. I must say, though, depending on which countries, my material has been found verbatim out there claimed by others. This post is fantastic, it clarifies many probabilities.

      Forty-Four Short Story Ideas

      The morning after I took my copies to look at the notes others had sscribbled and realized that a copy was missing out of five. No one asked to keep a copy. Thanks for the very informative post. I agree on virtually all of it. However, protecting published work IS important.

      I am about to publish a book with a very catchy title and it was suggested to me to trademark the phrase. I wonder if you have any advice on trademarking titles? If you were using the same title across a series or a series of products , maybe you could get a trademark. But right off the bat? Thanks for supplying so much common sense about a subject that mystifies so many people.

      Priceless Stone - Inspirational Short Story

      However, unless you register BEFORE infringement or within 3 months of publication , you cannot sue for statutory damages or recover your legal fees. Thanks, John! If traditionally published, your publisher does this on your behalf. Nice article, Jane! It is true that a lot of e-book material is stolen, rehashed, repurposed online, but good authors will spin their topic to attract their target market whether or not someone tries to steal their ideas, some of their content or otherwise. Thank you, Jane. Anyone trying to steal a novel of mine would have to be crazy — I find it hard enough to sell them as it is and if someone manages to do it, I will rush around and hog the profits.

      Stealing Stories | Kathryn Heyman

      I did have an accidental theft once. I sent a collection of sexy short stories to a very well established author who was putting out an anthology. Fascinating phenomenon. I very much agree about few ideas are so unique no one has ever heard of them. Includes a list of great resources. I wish this were the first thing every aspiring writer read, based on the number of questions I […]. Theft, Idea, Advice, Publishing, Writing […].

      I wish this were the first thing every aspiring writer read, based on the number of questions I get about it. This article is not true of television where ideas are stolen often.