Wednesday 20 May 2009

Well well well

Curate's egg, yesterday was.

First the nasty bits. I discovered a writing colleague has maybe been appropriating the work of others, changing it slightly and submitting it as original work. Plagiarism is a dreadful thing for a writer to do. It is an abuse of trust, and in this case, of friendship.

Also, my publisher, Salt, put out several statements yesterday that seemed to be telling me and others that my/our books were not to be published.

Nicer bits:

I am assured by Salt that my books WILL be published. (Roller coaster...)

I attended a charity supper, a mix of three reading groups and various. Me speaking. The charity, breast cancer. Twenty guests, lovely supper, wine flowed. Twelve or thrirteen had bought the book in advance from Amazon/shops etc.
I took 18 more along, and took just one home. That lot I gave to the charity, and peeps were kind and bought them for about a tenner each. So thats about £170 before we start. It will be interesting to see how much the evening made.

Nicest bit... I got my copy of the wonderful photo/story book Nik and Katherine have put together for an Alzheimer's charity.
I am dog-tired and emotional following point one. Or I would do a proper post for the wonderful book! But I would probably get the links wrong at the moment, so I will put that up in a more sparky post tomorrow.

Tomorrow is another day. I am writing all night, to remind myself that writing IS GOOD.

Or... maybe not. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Jane Smith said...

Vanessa, I've recently discovered a few of my articles and several of my short stories online, with someone else's name on them. It's been awful: it's been made worse by the fact that this apparent friend edited them very slightly, and in doing so took out a lot of the lyrical quality/rhythm/poetry that I strived to achieve.

So my worry was: do I admit that they're mine, although they are now not quite? Or do I shut up and ignore it? In the end I sent the hosts takedown notices, and sent the "writer" concerned a very strong letter threatening legal action; the work quickly disappeared, but I'm left feeling shaken and hurt and very, very angry. So while I can't imagine how you feel (I hate that "I know how you feel" response because no one can, can they?), I do sympathise and hope that this plagiariser has been stopped in his or her tracks.

As for your book, and Salt... Salt's a wonderful publisher, and seems to routinely publish the most wonderful books without any resources at all. If there's going to be a delay of any kind I'd be willing to bet that the people behind Salt will do more than most others to find a way to get their books to the reading public, no matter what. Fingers crossed.

(And sorry to ramble. I must start taking the pills again.)

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thank you Jane, for your empathy here. I am so sorry this happened to you. It is unforgiveable behaviour.

Like your examples, the stories in question (those I know of, there may be more...) have been changed slightly, adding prose that is not as lucid and direct as the originals.

I am at a loss.

Jane Smith said...

I don't know what's worse: that my (and your) work has been plagiarised; or that people are going to think that we're responsible for substandard writing. Either way it makes my skin crawl, and I keep on getting really upset and angry about it while simultaneously realising that that's not going to do any good at all.

I hope you managed to get the work taken down, at least, and perhaps some announcement or apology (I got the take-down, but nothing more). And I hope that the plagiariser has realised precisely how wrong they were to do this.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

The case I refer to isn't my work. I won't mention names here for obvious reasons, but a prizewinning story published online some years back and also linked from the winner's own website, appears to have been used very closely indeed in order to earn cash from another literary competition.

I don't think the person realises that this is not just plagiarism but breach of copyright.

Sarah Hilary said...

What a horrid experience, V and Jane. I hope this person - now found out - will feel decently ashamed and be brought to book in an appropriate manner. And I hope Salt thrives, ultimately. I just bought a book from them to help in some small way.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Decently ashamed... nope. Not yet. What astounds me is that this has happened many times, on a face-to-face group, on an online group, and in submissions to publications and competitions. People have expressing their horror many times... and he/she STILL thinks what is done is just borrowing, creative osmosis.

If you are reading, person concerned... I hope a message is getting through here?

Alison Woodhouse said...

V, is it possible to contact the competition who awarded the recent prize and have it withdrawn, once the evidence of plagiarism is submitted?

So sorry you've got all this hassle/disappointment.


Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Alison,

They have been contacted. I am hoping that the writer concerned has been big enough to contact them too.

Hassle? If this gives a few pointers to other writers, then it has been worth it.

We all take seeds from everywhere. Raymond Carver used phrases from Chekhov and span whole new worlds out of a single phrase. I am writing a story inspired by one of my favourite stories... The Raft.

But being inspired by something and lifting it bodily are two very very different things, as most of us seem to understand.