Monday, January 23, 2012
This one time at writing camp, I wrote short story about undead beings that glitter in sunlight and the next thing you know a little book called Twilight is published chocked full of GLITTERY UNDEAD VAMPIRES.
Okay, so I never wrote about glittery vampires and Stephanie Myers did not steal from my unpublished writing. And say what you will about Twilight, it wasn’t too bad (for a third grade primer).
But I have had instances where my characters show up in print or on television while I’m still in unpublished edit mode. And I’m getting pretty sick of it.
In my novel, Rooted, my villain was powerful, viscerally cruel, dark and cunning. I had every aspect of his character down: his accent, his hand made clothing. The way he moved like a bull in one scene and Fred Astaire in another. This man had any women he wanted, and he wanted all of them, often. He was an animal.
Thinking back on him, I miss him terribly. Of course, I can visit with him anytime I like. All I have to do is watch an episode of the Sopranos and there he be, the physical version of my solitary writings. Only, I wrote the durn character a couple of years before the Sopranos debuted. By the time I got around to watching the Sopranos, several years later, Rooted was pretty much solid. Only, my villain was now such a cliché he would never work in the story.
It was back to the drawing board. I changed my villain from a charismatic mob boss to a revenge seeking coal miner from West Virginia. I’m taking a gamble that HBO does not intend to develop a series about a coal miner with a mean streak and missing fingers. This, I hope, takes care of any future infringements on what I have already written in my unpublished novel, Rooted.
Two weeks ago I listened to the audio version of The Help, only to discover that one of my main characters currently in development has a name very similar to one of the main characters in The Help. And like the character in “The Help”, my character is a black female in Mississippi.
How in the world did The Help’s author know I am currently developing the most tragic literary figure of all time with a name very similar to Abeline, one of the main characters in The Help? My character is a black child in Mississippi, but her timeframe goes back to the 1880s. Her speech is so similar to Abeline’s from The Help, that I can’t get Abeline out of my head.
It’s like I’m now writing the child version of Abeline from The Help. Which makes me wonder, how did Kathryn Stockett know that one day I would develop a character so similar to her published Abeline? And how dare she write Abeline knowing I would be writing a similar character so soon after the publication of The Help?
To be plagiarized prior to anyone reading my work is quite unnerving. To be plagiarized before I even write anything is downright spooky.
So I beg all you hotshot published authors, have pity on this struggling writer. Please do not beat me to the punch. Leave me a few crumbs of my own writing to be sprung on the unsuspecting masses like a tiger from a bush.
For if you do, there will be a special place in heaven for you. And 36 virgins. I promise.