Ohhhhhh Kaayyyyyy. My sleeves are rolled up, my sassy pants are on and Im going to be telling it like it is. Im going to be to the point, and direct. Ready?
If you copy someones work, you are a knob. The end.
Ok so maybe that is a little too short and sweet, (or not sweet), but I hope it gets my point across pretty much straight away? Good. Lets now discuss. Im going to let you in on why Imitation is not the sincerist form of flattery, and try to work out where the line between inspiration and imitation starts and finishes. It will also be in my usual, say what I mean way! Grab your cuppa. (or possibly gin for this one. Im going IN)
Why Imitation is NOT the sincerest for of flattery
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my little rant I had about how I had seen that someone had copied part of one of my blog posts. Firstly, Id like to try to make you understand how this made me feel, as I think sometimes, people say “Oh take it as a compliment’, because they don’t fully understand the impact it has. Without being overly dramatic, (you know I have a tendency to do that, its the frustrated actress in me) it made me feel violated. I appreciate thats a weird word to use, but thats how it made me feel. The paragraph that had been copied was from a personal post that I had written, where I had left a little bit of my heart on the page, and had felt a little vulnerable. To have someone then take my words, my exact description of how I was feeling, and use it in their own post, made me feel shit. It made me feel like someone had discounted what I was saying, and used me. Temporarily, it made me feel like I didn’t want to write those sort of posts anymore, despite them being the posts I have written from day one. It was horrible.
My lovely Instagram family were wonderful to me. Some even told me stories of them too having had work copied. They were angry on my behalf, they were calling me for me to name and shame and trust me when I say, the temptation to do so on that first day was real. I wanted to hit back. I wanted to shout from the rooftops to the people that were reading her post, telling her how nice the words were, that they were not her words, they were mine! My heart was heavy with the feeling of having the words of my heart taken. I wanted to block her on every platform and explain to her my distress. I was feeling a rush of emotions, none of them positive. All of them destructive.
However. Life has taught me to never act when I am feeling like that. The amount of times I have gotten in trouble, (sometimes serious trouble, I will tell you the story of when I was a member of the hunt saboteurs another day) has taught me to cool my engines and take a breath when faced with someones knobbish actions. Not to react. So thats what I did. I allowed myself to calm. I meditated on it. I waited for the fire within me to reduce to a flickering flame, and my head to clear and have some clarity. This is when I saw the situation for what it was. I took my ego out of it, stopped feeling so offended, and tried to think about why someone would do that. Why would someone want to use someone else’s voice? Use someone else’s story? Why?
I think it comes down to their own lack of confidence in their own work, or laziness. One or the other. If it is a lack of confidence, well I can feel a degree of empathy and sympathy for that. I would hate to feel something, but feel my own words were not enough to convey that feeling. That must be restrictive and frustrating. It must feel like having a hand over your mouth mustn’t it. It must also surely give only temporary satisfaction, as you are not conveying your own heart, but replicating someones else’s. I feel for them, and can forgive that. Laziness however, is different. Reading someones words and thinking yeah I feel like that, so I will just nick those words or opinions, is low. Its classless and its lazy. Its being a knob. I don’t forgive that quite so easily. I have had someone copy my style of writing before, their own writing suddenly having my voice and opinions, and I let that go over my head, but never had my exact words stolen. That was a tough day in the office.
So, where does the line finish between inspiration and imitation? What makes a piece of work go from an idea that was triggered by someone else’s work, to full on copying of an idea? What is your opinion on this? They say in story writing that there is actually only seven original outlines of plot lines, so I guess its understandable that many blog posts will be on similar subjects. Especially topical or current affair type subjects. We all get that, but where does the “originality” line start and finish? What do you think? Oh and also, why do some people not credit the person that they were inspired by! Its blooming rude in my opinion. Again, its taking someones work and using it for your own use! To give you an example, I wrote a post earlier this year, that was inspired by one of my blogging buddies posts. This post, If we were having coffee, was wrote very differently to Janelle’s, but I had been inspired by her work, so of course, I gave her full credit and a mention. Its only right isn’t it? She had been my inspiration for the post, so credit where it is due. Why does the blogosphere struggle to do this? Its certainly not all bloggers, I have seen people nodding their hats at fellow writers when they have been inspired, but sadly it dosent seem the norm. Why? Is it that little devil ego again? Is it lack of confidence? The person feels they don’t want to credit the other person, just incase their readers should find the other post better? Im not sure but its a shame isn’t it?
I have said before, that I have been an avid reader of blogs for ever! I remember blogs when they were truly online journals and diaries. Its probably ten years ago that I started my own first blog (which was called A Thirty Something) so of course, I have seen the changes in blogs, and the industry as a whole. People see it as a career now. They read the stories of people making good money from blogging. Oh and we all know the perception that bloggers just get a load of free shiz and take a pic or two…..Is that why imitation has reared its head more? That pressure to keep getting content published means people have become a little lazy in their ideas and content? They use other peoples ideas as it means they can stick to their posting schedules if they have one? Are the people with the huge, burning passion to write occasionally being fed upon by the people that want to “blog” in large quantity? What are your thoughts on this?
Imitation goes on in abundance in many areas. We all know those people that buy whatever their favourite instagrammer is wearing. I see that as inspiration. If they suddenly want their hair the same, the nail colour the same etc, is that then imitation? Lets think about our friendships groups. You may love Mary’s latest front room decor, and want to use the colours to create your own new living room. Thats inspiration. If you are suddenly buying the same lamp, rug, coffee table books, clock etc, is that then imitation? You see? Where are the start and end points? The lines can be a little blurred, I get that. I do however think you know, deep down in your heart you KNOW if you have copied rather than been inspired. Don’t you think?
I am over the situation now. I have seen it for what it is and refuse to be brought down by it. I will not waste energy on it. I wish them well. I love writing, I adore blogging in my eclectic, random way. I love telling you my thoughts and discussing them with you, so I will not let this recent experience jade me. But. Imitation really, truly does not feel flattering when it is your words from your soul that have been copied. When you have shown a little vulnerability and someone strides on over and uses it. Its not flattering. Its shit
So, as ever, if you have your cuppa’s at the ready, I would love to know your thoughts and feelings on this. Talk to me about it. Tell me what you think? Tell me where you think the lines are drawn with regards to inspiration versus imitation. Tell me if you think I handled it rightly or wrongly. Let me know if you have had similar experiences.