Happy Friday everyone. Today’s post has two parts.
Part 1: Flash Fiction for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers (warning strong language)
Part 2: Thoughts on Stealing
Post Part 1: Fiction
Group Therapy – Session Two (Fiction word count: 100)
We can take any pillar when group therapy ends? I call dibs on the yellow one because I feel enlightened – never knew how to put a thought on trial before.
I’m taking a red one because I’m still pissed –getting your ideas and work stolen sucks. But then I thought – I’m the fuckin’ cow, bitch. Take my cups of milk –ounces of thoughts– because these teats drip ideas – that’s how a creative cow flows.
You don’t have teats…
Can we please lose the “f” word…
May I talk now? I’ll take a blue pillar because I’ve learned to mindfully calm.
First – regarding the line about putting thoughts on trial. Did you know that according to cognitive restructuring we can learn how to process our thoughts – in a trial like manner in order to attain more mindful actions (more here and here). When we put a thought on trial – we examine the thought and find some defense for it (rather than just dismiss it we look for where it came from and this can be freeing)- then we find the prosecution side that shows irrational aspects or unhelpful angles (cos so many unhelpful thoughts have a stupid basis and once we see that it can lead to more rational and sound thinking… and remember that our thoughts lead to moods and then often to actions).
I also tried to show five different people speaking….
Second – regarding the creative cow analogy – I wanted to express the anger and pain that some person might feel after being robbed. They might cope by angrily declaring that they are the creative cow (and use the f and B words like Jesse from Breaking Bad did… lol- right Mahesh?). And while processing like that could help — well perhaps they still feel violated. Of course we know that imitation is a compliment – but try telling to that to someone who has had this happen- to where their business was hurt or to where they were setback. It hurts.
Oh and side note on cows and their milk: Did you know that…..
Researchers from University of Leicester, UK, found that music influenced cow lactation. Calming music improved milk yield, “probably because it reduces stress and relaxes the cows in much the same way as it relaxes humans.”
Lastly, the rest of this post is about feeling “robbed” – If you were here for the fiction I invite you to skip the rest (and thanks for the visit).
Post Part 2: Robbed
I know more than a few folks who have felt robbed – either in ideas or directly stolen from with images, stories, or products. For example, my friend from Denver hired someone to design a website for her business and when finished – he made a similar copy of her site and sold a version of her hormone product. I do not know all of the details – but while visiting her a few years ago – you could feel her pain – it was like the rug was pulled out from under her; she had no litigious support so she did learn some valuable business lessons.
Now we all know that sometimes ideas beget ideas and being copied is not always being robbed.
“There is nothing new under the sun.”
And as a former art teacher – I’d be the first one to loudly chime in and express that ideas are shared in order to generate ideas. We often copy and borrow in order to make things our own. It is part of the creative process! And even Zinnser addressed this beneficial copying in his classic book On Writing Well:
“IMITATION. Don’t ever hesitate to imitate another writer. Every artist learning a craft needs models. Eventually you’ll find your own voice and will shed the skin of the writer you imitated. But pick only the best models…. The best way to learn to write is to study the work of the men and women who are doing the kind of writing you want to do” (Zinsser, 1990, P. 127).
Further, I know that sometimes the lines of originality get blurred. If someone saw Joyce Meyer teach about Body Mind and Spirit – and then they started teaching others about it – and even tagged that triad idea in a book promo – does this mean they copied? Maybe not. Likely it doesn’t – because maybe they don’t even remember hearing Joyce say it – or maybe they also heard it in three other places and then one day it emerged as their own idea. Further – Joyce heard it somewhere – or heard pieces of it to then make her lesson on it – and isn’t the attention of mind, body, and spirit something considered since antiquity?
However, there are times when people are blatantly robbed.
And the good news is that sometimes today’s social media venues give us proof; SOMETIMES online records help folks defend some of their original work.
A blogger I follow recently teased about how too many people overuse the copyright emblem on all their posts – all of their paragraphs, etc. – and she made some fun points. I know there are times we give freely (for we have received much freely too) – and further – I know there are times when what looks like copying was mere coincidence and folks need to take a chill pill. For example, I recently wrote a short fiction piece with a grandfather talking to his grandson. A few weeks later, a different short fiction writer used the same pair – a grandfather and a grandson – in a short fiction piece. Did he copy me? Likely NOT! Further, this same writer wrote a piece with an 1980s song a few weeks ago and then a few weeks later i wrote about music with Yes and Roundabout. Did I copy him? I think not – but was his post maybe imbedded in my mind and did it possibly arouse ideas and creativity – yes – likely.
So lines are often murky when it comes to “if” someone was robbed. But when it is blatant robbery – it hurts – as with my friend who lost revenue when hired help duped her. (And litigious lesson learned.)
– It can really hurt when we see someone famous take an idea and step on the little ones like ants. Just give credit – or just ask – or just spend a little money to pay for the photo – the story – the idea – or the joke. Don’t be so darn greedy folks.
For example, there has been an ongoing story about the Conan O’Brien Joke-theft case:
“Judge Janis Sammartino last month canceled the Aug. 10 trial-scheduling conference to give both sides more time to sort out whether one of three jokes at issue is properly copyrighted. The “Tom Brady Joke” – allegedly stolen from Robert Alex Kaseberg of Carmel Valley by O’Brien and his writers — is holding up the lawsuit filed in July 2015. It could potentially cost O’Brien and co-defendants $450,000 plus damages. On Feb. 3, 2015, Kaseberg posted this joke on Twitter: “Tom Brady said he wants to give his MVP truck to the man who won the game for the Patriots. So enjoy that truck, Pete Carroll.The next night, O’Brien’s monologue on TBS included: “Tom Brady said he wants to give the truck that he was given as Super Bowl MVP . . . to the guy who won the Super Bowl for the Patriots. Which is very nice. I think that’s nice. I do. Yes. So Brady’s giving his truck to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.” read more here
And you see – I am sure Conan O’Brien has lots of money to spend on buying jokes – and so rather then stealing – throw someone a bone – give them a boost or a bump. But you know, some folks cannot do that because they are so selfish they do not realize how important it would be to give a little guy a boost (and selling a joke to the Conan team would be life-changing for a writer) – and then there are times when the thief might be competing with their muse – and stealing (borrowing or gleaning inspiration) from their source while they harbor a bit of jealousy – maybe envying and wishing they were a creative cow – and some highly successful folks do this on accident – they can promote or bump certain people – but a few others make them feel green with envy (and they could take a green pillar when group counseling ends). Now again, I know this is not a black and white issue. And Patter recently wrote about it so well – which inspired today’s rant – more on her post in a minute.
Because I guess another question is – “If someone changes something does that make it “inspired” rather than stealing?”
For example, let’s say my spouse did a comic video where he dressed up like Bob Ross. Around that time I also did a blog on a Sunday morning about listening to Lionel Richie’s song Easy Like Sunday Morning —– and then a short while later —- Jimmy Fallon’s writers put him in a skit where he dressed like Bob Ross (here) and sang “Hello” with Lionel Richie’s head on the sculpting table. Would that be mere coincidence? Probably!! – Or could there have been some small connection and maybe an idea was started when a writer was perusing the Internet. Likely it had nothing at all to do with it – because things like this happen all the time in a shared culture – Bob Ross and Lionel Richie come up all the time. And maybe it is grandiose thinking to even think a writer was visiting those sites and harvesting ideas. Ha! But you never know. And my warning to all of you who glean this way – is to beware because truth always gets exposed. If you think the person you are harvesting from will never find out…. think again, my friend. Just give credit where credit is due. As my mom always said when we were growing up, “Your sin will find you out…” which we took to mean that “truth always has a way of surfacing” – and so just aim to always “do the right thing” 🙂
The sad truth is that stealing of ideas and actual printed work happens. Rather than getting inspired and expounding in their own way on a fun idea – some people blatantly steal.
Pat Thompson, AKA Patter (here), recently called this the “Dark Arts” and she wrote about how hurtful stealing happens all the time. Patter shared many examples, like: “…a story about the privilege of power enjoyed by a supervisor. It involves a dispute over whether a doctoral researcher’s ideas were stolen. It concerns the serious consequences experienced by the doctoral researcher when she took action. Chilling. (Read the whole story on Why I left academia Parts 1-3.)”
Patter ended her post with this: “You see, the most widely practiced academic dark arts revolve around selfish competition and ruthless self-promotion (1). We usually think that these academic dark arts result from individual bad behaviour. Cases are rare, aberrant. But… As a social scientist, I have to ask – can phenomena that seem to happen so often be a matter of individual malpractice? Doesn’t the common knowledge we all have of these kinds of dark arts stories suggest that something more structural is involved? What if the dark arts are not simply about individuals with a poor moral code but something more systemic? What if the dark arts are encouraged and kept alive by academic funding, promotion, publication and audit systems that rewards a chosen few? And, what do we do about professors who practice the dark arts?”
Closing thought – those of you who are harvesting – don’t forget to give credit where credit is due.
Those of you who were robbed from – I am so sorry that you had to go through that.
Thanks for reading….
Have a nice weekend.