Writing is easy. In fact, it is by far the easiest thing that I do on a daily basis. It requires very little effort on my part. The process is simple: I think about something, then I write it. I don’t use outlines or any sort of step-by-step process. For the most part, words spill from my head and find themselves magically on a page or on my screen. I rarely have a plan of action… it is all just a happy accident. In fact, I am writing right now and I know where I will eventually end up without jotting down notes. I won’t even edit this post beyond punctuation and grammar just to prove a point. The point being that writing is easy for me.
I am not so delusional to think that writing is this easy for everyone. Some people can write effortlessly and others struggle to find a voice that is both engaging and clear. I can’t say that I am both engaging and clear everytime I write in my blog, but I don’t have that option when it comes to my professional life. I am given a topic and my editor demands that I follow the editorial rules they set all the while being both engaging and clear (it would be even easier if I didn’t have to follow those basic rules).
Great writers can draw you in despite their shortcomings. Some writers abuse every single rule of writing known to modern man, but it doesn’t detract from their prose. It is because they are engaging and write with some level of clarity. They find the inspiration necessary to churn out an article or story and you lose yourself for a period of time in their world. All writers need inspiration and this is the area that is dangerous for all writers. At some point inspiration becomes emmulation.
If there is a subject few writers like to discuss it is the topic of plagiarism. Recently a few of my writer friends and I have discussed Kaavya Viswanathan, the rapidly falling writing wunderkind. If you don’t want to follow the link, let me break it down for you. Kaavya was 17 years old when she signed a $500,000 2-book publishing deal. An amazing feat for anyone, let alone a virtually unknown writer. After her first book was published, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, it was instantly acclaimed by various media outlets hungry for the NEXT BIG THING. There was only one small problem. A good portion of the plot and a great many passages were stolen from books Kaavya had read as a teen. More and more similarities are being found and have now forced her publisher to cancel the second half of her book deal, a former employer to review articles she wrote while an intern, and more importantly, being labled a plagiarist. For a writer, NOTHING could be worse than having people think you steal.
I don’t have any compassion for people who steal even when it is "unintentional." I’m not saying that a writer can’t find inspiration, but to lift words from piece written by another author and try to pass them off as your own is beyond any act I can forgive.