My first novel was published in March of 2007 with Siren Publishing. Titled Made For Each Other, this story was the first one I had ever written specifically to sell—the first time I had targeted a market, instead of just letting my imagination fly, unfettered. I’d heard about “erotic romance”, you see, and since I was writing romance anyway—mostly for myself, and my beloved to read since the rejections were piling up—I knew I could heat the love scenes up to fit the genre.
I mean, let’s face it, at the time I was over 50, had given birth to three children, and been married to the same man for more than 35 years. Heating up the love scenes really was not a problem at all.
Today I have 21 novels published, number 22 is in the hands of my publisher, and numbers 23 and 24 are works in progress right here on my hard drive.
That’s a lot of books in a relatively short period of time, but I don’t want you to think that writing is, or should be, easy. It’s not. I tell you, without a word of a lie, that some days the process is very hard and damn near close to painful.
And that’s my fault, entirely.
You see, the problem is, I care about the quality of the story I write. I care that my characters have depth, that the work has soul. I care that there’s a story to be told, complete with a plot. I care that the words flow, a kind of verbal symphony, if you will. I care that there’s a cadence, and a style that lures the reader in and makes her—or him—want to read more.
Because I care so very deeply about the craft of writing, I get understandably upset when others who claim to be authors, do not. I’ve gone on, probably ad nauseam over the years in these essays, lamenting about the quality of writing being offered by those who call themselves authors in this e-pub world of mine, about the spelling and the grammar, and the literacy that sometimes seems to be completely lacking.
But there’s something even worse than bad spelling and sloppy grammar that has my professional senses incensed, another sin, if you will, which leaves me feeling personally insulted: plagiarism.
It’s an ugly word for an ugly crime—and that’s what plagiarism is, as far as I’m concerned, a crime. It damages the victim of the theft, and the perpetrator and—in my opinion—every other person who identifies themselves as a professional author.
I do not consider those who steal the written word from others and pass it off as their own to even be writers at all. They’re hacks. They’re worse than the worst tweed-coated, hair grease-wearing dishonest used car salesman whose lot is filled with cars all previously owned by little old ladies from Pasadena. They are worse than the worst snake oil salesman who sells a false miracle cure to an achy old man, swindling him out of his life savings.
When someone steals the work of another, and passes it off as their own, it hurts every one of us who invests everything that we are into this craft of ours. For you see, writing is more than saying “ta-da” when the book is done. It’s the planning, the research, the process of taking your characters from the first moment of their journey to the end, and all the growth and revelations and emotions in between.
Writing is far more than the finished product. It is an exploration, of the work, the characters, and the writer herself. Those who would plagiarize, plain and simply destroy the entire process.
This writer is about to do something she has not done since that first edition of Wednesday’s Words appeared in November of 2006.
I am taking a week off from my essay. Next week at this time I will be gloriously immersed in my one week writers’ retreat with my three best friends—Emma Wildes, Lara Santiago, and Raina James. We will be brainstorming and bonding, sharing and caring and writing, and, while I cannot absolutely swear to it, there may be wine involved.
This week long “me time” has been a very long time in coming, and I can hardly wait! Wednesday’s Words will return on May 11th.