When I look back at all the crap I wrote in high school, it's a wonder I can write at all.
With the latest news of the young lady from Harvard including passages from other people's novels in her own book, I'm reminded of the many mangled paraphrases that work their way into every day life.
One journalism professor, the late Raymond Paul at MSU, summed up learning as "Ingest, digest, squat."
Can you hear the word Scaramouch with out asking, "can you do the fandango?"
Think back to John Dean of Watergate fame. He had been a translator and was able to recall and translate entire passages from speeches which is what made his recollections so invaluable to the Congressman Peter Rodino.
Not too long ago we picked up a few Robert Klein and George Carlin classic CDs and lo and behold, those guys took all my best lines and jumped into their time machines and put them on those old recordings. But I won't sue. I don't think they meant anything by it.
In fact, my girlfriend at the time used to say that when she read my poetry she could hear Dylan in it. I'd be the first to tell you I'm no Dylan Thomas - whoever he was.
But it wouldn't surprise me to read through my old stuff and realize similarities with observations by Aunt Erma, Dave Barry and Mike Royko. I'd like to think that it was by reference or illusion.
I remember writing a song long ago and singing it to myself on the way to school. Then one day I heard Neil Diamond singing it. How did he do that?
It's easy for me to realize any song that pops into my head was written by someone else. Unless I've just taken a song and mixed up the lyrics.
When we compiled the Honor Roll books, we mostly copied the words of others, mostly unnamed, and called ourselves editors rather than writers.
Well, as for unintentional copying. It happens.
Intentional copying, that happens too. And that's too bad. Think harder and use your own words.
Copyright © 2006 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.
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