Yesterday, I found out, thanks to a loyal reader, that I was a victim of plagiarism.
I scoffed at the idea that somebody would want to plagiarize me. Me! Not that I didn't think such a thing could happen to me - because I was definitely aware of it, no doubt - but because I just couldn't fathom why someone would want to plagiarize my stuff. I feel like if my stories were books, they'd be quick, fun beach reads. Most of them, anyways. Great when you want something light, but not plagiarism-worthy.
I followed the link my reader sent me and found out that this woman not only plagiarized one story, but three. Three! And they were all mine.
I felt... violated. I'm not going to lie; I felt like she stole three of my children and claimed they were hers. (Maybe a little overdramatic, but whatever.) Everything was exactly how I had written it - down to the title and the summary! Had she no shame? Didn't she know there was a possibility she'd be caught?
And what kills me is that she was getting reviews, reads, and votes. I'm not jealous that she was stealing my work, per se, but I was pissed that people she believed she wrote these stories. Stories I wrote at five in the morning because I just didn't have the time for it. Stories I outlined and created and wrote in my voice. My stories were labeled as hers.
I hated it.
Which surprised me because I didn't think I'd have such a strong reaction to it, even when confronted by the blatancy of her lazy actions.
I realized that these are my stories, my babies, which means they're a part of me. If anyone tries to claim them as theirs, I feel suffocated and angry because they're claiming me as them. And I'm not. I'm only me. (Geez, I hope this is making sense...)
And that's how I know I'll never plagiarize. (I always knew this, of course. Sophomore year of high school I got my first and last D in a science class because it was so hard everyone - even the good kids - had to cheat in order to get a decent grade. But not me.) Because everything I do or write has some part of my instilled in it. I could never claim something that isn't mine because it has no piece of me in it.
Obviously that means I'll have to work harder but that's okay. It's worth it. At least, to me.
So, what happened to my plagiarizer? I left a comment on her author's page introducing myself, telling her she has 24 hours to remove my stories or I'll go directly to the site and inform them of her blatant plagiarism and constantly write on her author's page telling her readers or whoever decided to check her out that she plagiarized my stuff. A few hours later, the entire author's page didn't exist.
Which left me relieved.
I probably won't ever take my stories down (unless I'm hoping to publish them, of course). There's a good chance that I'll be plagiarized again, and when the time comes, I'll handle it.
But I'm a writer. And when you're a writer, there's a good chance someone is going to copy your work. But those plagiarizers? They're not writers. They're just lazy and want some instant gratification. And remember: the highest form of flattery is imitation. Even when it's verbatim.