Friday, August 19, 2011

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

It says Canine Agility Team,
but you get the point, right?
Unfounded accusations on the other hand, can scar you for life, but provide excellent blogging material.

Today's post is a story about something that happened to me in high school. HS was not my most favorite time ever. Think back to the late nineties and early double aughts. Fashion had reached new levels of ick, cars were just starting to get small and sleek again, and I was still wearing straight-leg jeans and sporting super-long hair with dorky bangs. Let's add some accusations about plagiarism to it.


The year: 2000
The place: High school English class
The players: Mr. S the English teacher and me

Cue wavy lines and piano music as we head into a flashback.

Mr. S: Congratulations on getting fourth place with your short story in the Mark Twain Creative Writing Contest.

Me: Thanks.

Mr. S: I wanted to tell you something, but don't get mad.

Me: (already mad because when someone tells you not to get mad, it happens instantly) Okay.

Mr. S: One of the judges thinks you plagiarized that story.

Me: (jaw on the floor) Who?

Mr. S: I'm not going to tell you that.

Me: (fuming) Why not?

Mr. S: Because I know you'll confront that person. You shouldn't be mad, you should be flattered.

Me: (dumbfounded and probably sporting one of my famous what-are-you-insane? looks)

Mr. S: It was so well-written that the judge thought you copied it from a book. That's how good it was. But I told that person I've read a lot of your writing and you'd never do anything like that.

Me: (mentally rifling through the judging sheets with initials on them, trying to think who could accuse me of something like that. I draw a blank) Thanks.

Then he launched into a long explanation about how no ideas are original anymore and everything has been done. I'm pretty sure I tuned out in order to find and confront this wrong-doer.

Wavy lines and piano music again.

Oh, I know you who you are, accuser. I can't remember your name and only have the vaguest recollection of what you look like, but I have your initials on that judging sheet. Student teacher. There's a very good possibility that this student teacher believed if you come from a podunk town surrounded by other podunk towns in a podunk corner of the podunk county at the bottom of a podunk state, you could barely read and write. This might even have been an accurate assumption based on some of the people I went to high school with. If you look at the majority, they were destined to work already working at Wal-Mart or fast food restaurants.

Apparently she didn't consider my work in her teaching class above standard, even considering the 'talent' I was surrounded by in there. But facts don't lie, lady. During the course of the Mark Twain Creative Writing Conference I won four awards. One in every category I entered. That's called consistency. It's in Webster's, look it up. I hear these days they're handing out money and plaques for awards. I got medals like in the Olympics, only made out of left-over metal that dents easily.

Maybe she was jealous of my talent. Maybe she was a hateful hag. Maybe she saw the spelling and punctuation errors and thought, these spelling and punctuation errors have each been individually placed and carefully chosen to distract from the profoundly poignant story telling hence making it seem as though this mere child is a brilliant writer when in fact, she copied it word for word from Louis L'Amour's vast collection of authentic western tales! Cheater! Plagiarist! Spawn of Satan!


Erm, whatever the case may be, it was entirely original. Except for the fact that it was about a dying man who wanted to spend his precious last minutes alone in the place where he'd been born. I mean, who hasn't written that story?

1 comment:

  1. I say hunt that student teacher down. I bet she's given up teaching and is wondering where her life went wrong. Where you, on the other hand, are about to be a world famous published author!
    Wanda Fittro

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