Not Me by Lynn Lorenz

First, let me say there is no defense for plagiarism. It doesn’t just happen. You don’t accidentally take someone’s story and change the names and pronouns, switch a few sentences around, and then say, “Oops! Did I do that?” I’m pretty damn sure my laptop doesn’t have a F key for that.

No. All you can expect to hear are excuses, or what some might hope are reasons. When you say reasons, it makes it sound as if they are valid. Reasons are just excuses disguised in fake rational. There is only one basic reason to plagiarize someone’s work, and that’s to make money. And like so many bad things, money is usually the cause, or the reason. Lack of. Need for. I wish we all had great sales, then maybe such crimes wouldn’t exist. And in a tightening market, does it really surprise us that someone would do this?

See? Excuses.

What is the real answer? Why would someone do this? Why risk your good name, your reputation as a writer, the only thing we really have, to make some money? Hundreds? Thousands? Is any amount worth damaging your reputation? Destroying your career?

I can’t understand it. I couldn’t understand it, when in my corporate job, we were asked every year to sign a document saying we’d never taken bribes, or received gifts from companies, like Christmas hams or tickets to football games. Or failed to report them if we were offered them.
I thought, who would risk a steady job, good pay, and the respect of their co-workers for seats on the 50 yard line? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I figured it’d be my luck to get caught on the JumboTron, with that ham in my lap. I needed my salary, my health benefits, my friends’ respect. But someone must have, since there is this document. Someone, somewhere, broke the rules, and now we all had to stand up and say, “Not me.”

And fuck, it’s this. This is why it hurts other authors. Why it taints all of us, even if you didn’t co-write a book with her or even know her. Because on Facebook, I’ve witnessed a rash of authors stating, “Not me.” Of writers “signing” the document. It’s the horrible need that those of us who didn’t take the easy way out, who struggle every day to create characters and stories, must now assure everyone we know that we didn’t cheat.

Not me.

Of distancing ourselves, and our reputations, from the offender. Of taking that big step back and leaving that person standing alone, like the old comedy routine of the reluctant volunteer.

Only no one stepped back. This person stepped forward, out of the line. Intentionally. Made a choice as she sat in front of her computer to step over the line, no matter what her “reasons”.

Now, I see posts about readers who have doubts about all of this person’s books. Of returning them. Asking for their money back. Of deleting them.

And I wonder if my readers are doubting me. Doubting others. Doubting all of us authors. And that hurts me. It hurts all of us.

It sucks the big one.

But as much as I hate this, I understand how they feel, because they’ve been betrayed. Cheated. Insulted.

I have a copy of the Deuce book. It’s the only book by her I own. I think it cost me a few bucks. Do I want my money back? No. Not worth the email, for me.

I think, instead, I’ll keep it, right there on my Kindle. To remind me, every time I scroll past it, that there are some things more precious to me than a few bucks.

Like my reputation.

Lynn

9 thoughts on “Not Me by Lynn Lorenz

  1. Aye! I still haven’t wrapped my head around this “affair”… I’ll need to let it sink in a little longer before I add my 2c. 🙂

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  2. I plagiarised once 😦 way back in my fanfic days, carried away on the fumes of a very nice bottle of burgundy and I still swear it was an accident. I was writing a throwaway piece for a comedy prompt, had a mental image that made me hoot with laughter and used it. Then a month or two later I had an email from a reader pointing out that while she had enjoyed the story, that particular section had been taken from My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and I realised that I had regurgitated a bit of a book I’d read thirty years before. I was mortified and the reader, a Polish vet who was reading old British autobiographies to improve her English [which was excellent :)], was very nice about it, but my lord she didn’t have to be. What are the chances, eh? I think that goes to show that you’d better be damn careful to assign credit where credit was due because, there will always always be someone who can pick out the source.

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  3. I agree with you on this absolutely. There is an active thought process that goes into taking a m/f book, and changing pronouns and names to fit a m/m model. And I hate that. But I have an equal problem with the word ‘plagarism’ being bandied around where it does not exist. And I’ve seen that lately, too. I think it would be great if everyone just found a way to play nice.

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  4. It’s so sad when someone steals your time, effort and story. I have so many stories running through my brain I’d be happy to give one or two away, but then they’d have to take the time and effort to write their own book. Which would probably get pirated. Makes us all look bad.

    Thanks for highlighting that problem, Lynn!

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  5. What you said, Lynn. I labor over every word, each punctuation mark, and sentence structure. Writing is hard and, at times, exhausting and stressful work — and the thought that someone could just “borrow” pieces of my book so they could make it easier for themselves to make a quick buck or two makes my stomach hurt — and has me questioning why I even take the chance of exposing myself to this sort of violation.

    Then I think of my fans — the ones that have been with me since 1998 when I first published and the new ones who e-mail me when they discover one of my books and then buy all the rest — and I keep writing.

    Yeah, I ain’t getting rich either, but the emotional feedback and satisfaction of giving the chance for my fans to escape every day worries for a while in reading one of my books is what keeps me going.

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  6. Pingback: I’m Letting the “Cat” Out of the Bag | Love, Lust, and Laptops

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