Wow. I and the rest of the indie publishing community are still reeling from this latest scandal, although I’m sure it’s not just the indie publishing community. If you haven’t heard about the latest whisperings of plagiarism in the romance community, consider yourself lucky. There was a different one a few months ago involving authors plagiarizing multiple authors’ work, and you hear of these things happening every so often. I remember ten years ago or so hearing about a teenage phenom writer, one being hailed as fresh and new…until readers discovered she was uncannily like one of their faves, and—upon examination—was discovered to be a word thief.
Bottom line (and something I used to tell my students when I taught writing classes)—if you steal someone else’s words, intentional or otherwise, sooner or later you will be caught.
But I didn’t start writing this post today to be all depressing or finger-pointy. That author doesn’t need yet another person talking about her. No…instead, I want to talk about my writing. This latest incident really gives me a reason to talk about something lots of you haven’t fully understood about me, and that’s why I read what I read.
Every once in a while, someone will say, “Hey, Jade, you really need to read this author or that author.” This or that author usually happens to write in the same (or in a similar) genre to mine. I don’t read in my genre very often. Usually, I read nonfiction, horror, suspense, or mainstream fiction. I might read one or two books a year in my genre (if that). Here are my reasons:
- I want to sound fresh. If I constantly read in my genre, I’m afraid I will start to sound like every other author out there. In some ways, I suppose, that wouldn’t be bad, because what’s popular now is what’s selling, so I guess that would be a way to jump on the gravy train. However, I do not want to sound or seem like every other author out there, even if it means I sacrifice audience. I want to be different; I relish it (yes, part of it is the f**king rebel in me!). And those of you who read my work regularly appreciate that. I don’t plan to change my game plan now.
- I believe that everything I read, whether I remember it consciously or it’s buried in the back of my mind, is constantly with me. Actually, it’s not just everything I read; it’s also everything I see (right now, I’m referring to TV shows, movies, and plays). With that in mind, I believe it’s quite possible to accidentally envision a scene or a character in my mind and think it’s brand new, but maybe it’s actually fashioned after something I’ve seen or heard or read. So I do think it’s possible for stories to have similar elements, even when an author has done her best to be original. I do not want that to ever happen, so I’d prefer to play it safe and not read much in my genre. I’m not saying I never do. I’m just saying I don’t do it that often. That’s not to insult all the wonderful authors out there, those wonderful writers I’m proud to call my peers. It’s to keep my work “pure,” for lack of a better word. That said, I’ve read one and a half books in my genre this year, and I have a helluva TBR list that I’ll get to when I retire.
I realize I’m missing a lot of awesome fiction. I do. It’s a sacrifice I will continue to make, though, and in light of recent happenings, I feel all the more compelled to do so. So please don’t take offense, friends, when you recommend a book to me (whether in my genre or on the fringe) and I politely decline, even and especially if you are a writer yourself. It’s not that I don’t trust your judgment; I do it to protect myself, but I also do it to ensure that my writing is out of the ordinary, and I hope I don’t disappoint. Fellow writers, know that I do this out of the utmost respect for you and your work.
With much love,
Oh, yeah. And ROCK ON!!!