Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

Liars, thieves, and whores.

Today’s Peter David Blog entry profoundly discusses the nature of writers’ ideas and the differences between such gray areas as “inspired by” and outright “plagiarism.” I was once told by a Harvard writing professor, Ms. Maxine Rodberg, that ultimately there are no more new stories, only fresh versions of the old ones. [1]

What struck me about PAD’s essay is the following paragraph:

Have I ever plagiarized something deliberately, with intent to cover it up? Once. I was in sixth grade, stuck for a creative writing piece, and I cobbled a story from a comic book. I carry the guilt with me to this day and have lived in fear for the past two decades that they’ll find out and make me repeat elementary school. I hope the principal doesn’t read this column.

And I found that I too have some plagiaristic guilt I need to try and atone for, with apologies to anybody involved. In a Creative Writing class my senior year of high school, my friend Scott “Scotch” Vesely and I created a ten-minute spy spoof entitled–wait for it–Kiss My Espionage. While most of this was original material, I have to confess that one of the particularly clever dialogue exchanges–between the “Bond” character and the “M” character–was actually ripped off from–wait for it again–an episode of Saturday morning’s The Super Mario Brothers Power Hour. [2]

I do not have the exact words in front of me, but the gag involved the manner in which certain letters of the alphabet sound like conversational words, e.g.:

Bond: And who are you then?
“X”: Agent X. I’m replacing M for this mission.
Bond: Why?
“X”: No, Agent X.
Bond: But…
“X”: M is on vacation.
Bond: Oh. I see.
“X”: No, dammit, not O, I, or C. Agent X.

And so on. There you have it. Lock me away.

I don’t feel better about it. Damn this conscience of mine.

[1] And another writing teacher I had once said that there was only one story in all the world, and that story was about Love. All stories, in other words, are about Love in general. Stories about Hate are stories about the Lack of Love. I’ve never been quite able to agree with him on this.

[2] To be slightly defensive, I did reword the lines, but the basic concept was there, and apparently nobody in class that day were big fans of Mario and Luigi’s animated adventures.

Current music: MP3 list, XTC, “Mermaid Smiled”

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This entry was posted on June 25, 2003 by in Writing.
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