Sunday, October 24, 2010


The other day, Keeva at Tree Bark Jacket posted that she had discovered a plagiarist.  In the flurry of activity afterward, it appears that the plagiarist was alternating between protesting innocence loudly and apologizing profusely.  (You can see it in Keeva's subsequent posts.)

Given the intense scrutiny under which my daughters' papers at school are placed, I'm surprised anyone under the age of 30 (or so . . . trying to think when the Internet may have become a relatively common resource for students . . .) has any doubt as to what plagiarism is.  That is, assuming that the blogger is under the age of 30, which I think is a pretty reasonable guess, given the average age of WoW players.  (Then again, look at me . . . but even I know it's wrong to steal other people's intellectual property.)

That said, I can empathize a bit with the sentiment that the plagiarist had when she more or less stated that there were only so many ways in which the same thing could be said.

I understand this complaint.  Looking over history and the vast amounts of literature and other media, it is hard to believe that any of us could ever really have an original thought.  You can start to read a book and suddenly, you can either see the pattern the writer followed or you can see similarities to another book you read in junior high. (Yes, kids, I went to a junior high, not a middle school.)

When I was in junior high, my Reading teacher assigned us to read "The Sword of Shannara". I loved it. All the adventure, magic, action, and the idea of the reluctant hero with the destiny to save the world was exciting to me, and I ate it up. Some years later, I decided to read "The Lord of the Rings", but when I started out, I had the funny feeling I had heard all this before. So many elements of the beginning were similar to "The Sword of Shannara" that I lost interest. I realize that the Shannara book was modeled after LoTR, rather than the other way around, but I had read Shannara first. (Years later, I did go and read LoTR and enjoyed it.  Now I don't read Shannara.)

As another example, on the back cover of "The Blue Sword", by Robin McKinley, I once saw a review which made me laugh out loud.
Any book that, at one point or another, reminded me of "The Sheikh", "Gunga Din", "Islandia", and "The Lord of the Rings", can't be anything but a true original.
--Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"A true original?"  When it reminded the reviewer of so many other stories and ideas all meshed together?  To be honest, I had immediately noticed that this author's "fantasy world" bore a remarkable resemblance to British India, which seemed to me to be somewhat romantic, but hardly original.  (Other elements:  a heroine who grows up not knowing she has a special heritage or special abilities, a wood-dwelling group of archers who can "melt" into the trees, a talisman passed down which only one person can wield, a people who have amazing talents which are not called "magic" but which might as well be . . . as I said, hardly original.)

So, yes, I can understand the idea that it is difficult to be original, especially with such limited material as Druid class abilities.

This is why I do not write basic Druid healing guides.  There are others who have the time to go play on the test servers, gather the data, and speak from experience, while I do not.  Anything I might write would simply be reiterating what other people had discovered, most likely with many referenced direct quotations, which would make my writing feel tired and redundant.  Without the experience myself, it would be very difficult for me to say anything in my own words without sounding like it was lifted from their pages.  So I leave all-encompassing guides to the explorers and benefit greatly by their explorations in my own play.  (I don't write such guides after I have had experience with the live changes because by then, enough already exist to make one from me completely extraneous.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Comment on things in my own experience?  Sure.  Write something and call it "The Amazing Anachan's Foolproof Guide to Restoration Druid Healing"?  No way.)

My niche lies in other areas, largely based upon things which happen to me or which I observe.  One advantage of this format is there can be no arguing my work is original.  In addition, I have often said that if my experiences cannot be used to help others, then the things learned in them are largely wasted.  Besides, it is fun to take a personal experience or observation and put together a larger thought.

The largest reason I write, truthfully, is the satisfaction I find in the process of creation.  (Even in the bad poetry I continue to write . . .)  There's something wonderful about trying to think and share self-crafted thoughts, even if the wonder of the piece is lost upon everyone except the author.

How someone can gain any satisfaction from taking credit for material owned by others is beyond me.

Side note:  Oh!!!  By the way, that annual inspection at work . . . I not only passed, I got commended.  /happy dance

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