They castrate the books of other men in order that with the fat of their works they may lard their own lean volumes - Jovius
I am not very good at most things: opening jars, riding bicycles, changing lightbulbs. There is a faulty mechanism in the ‘practical’ section of my brain. But I DO words and I even have been known to form them into pleasing and resonant sentences. Stories have always been my friends. At seven, I would write twelve pages when asked for one, escaping into wondrous or terrible worlds. Then when I learnt to shape them properly, those stories got published, even won prizes. My writing made me happy, more than my practical incompetence made me miserable.
So my words are precious. The ideas behind them, which are kept secret until I can form them into something coherent, more so. Because they are original to me, caused by synapses crackling in my mind that make strange connections. Creating peculiar and I hope, interesting characters. I am also often entrusted with other writers’ ideas and their stories in the raw. I can admire, or criticize, or be envious of their skill. But I have never been tempted to take from them. Ever. If someone produces something brilliant, that is their baby. You wouldn’t steal someone else’s child. Would you?
It has taken me a while to realise that not everyone thinks I should be the sole owner of my ideas. In fact, that no-one actually owns their ideas. Is there anything worse than the creep who cribs your answers at an exam? The one who can’t be bothered to revise themselves. The lazy, unethical ones who feel that cheating is OK. When it is down on the paper, it’s theirs – however it got there. The plagiarist who steals ideas, plots or words is this type of cheat.
It is true that ideas cannot be copyrighted. But if a writer steals from others because they have nothing of their own, this is lowest point at which they can sink. If they do it frequently and compulsively, it is an admission of madness, illness or desperation. It doesn’t matter what they do with this stolen property, whether they dress it up and make it beautiful. It’s still linked to someone else and it will never truly be theirs. It carries another writer’s unique scent.
In their hands though, it will always smell rotten.
So instead, let's celebrate the freshness of an original idea, the uniqueness that makes us the writers we are....
- Julia Bohanna
- Shortlisted Bath Short Story Award 2013 Runner-up Cinnamon Press Competition 2013 WNNER: Don Louth Writer of the Year (run by Reading Writers) WINNER: Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2012. SHORTLISTED: Scott Prize (Salt Publishing) 2012 for a short story collection. Writer/ Journalist - assistant editor and writer for the art and books pages of Wolfprint. Most recently published in Independent on Sunday and short story anthologies: Sentinel Champions No 9, 100 Stories for Queensland, 50 Stories for Pakistan, 100 Stories for Haiti and From Hell to Eternity. In a recent writing competition, Joanne Harris described my writing as '...compelling (but quite creepy)'
- ▼ July (2)
Prizes and Writing Awards
- Winner Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2012
- Shortlisted for Salt Publishing's Scott Prize for short story collections 2012
- Finalist in Brit Writers' Award 2011
- 2nd in Sentinel Literary Competition 2011
- Whitechapel Society Anthology to be published 2010
- Shortlisted for the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2009
- Shortlisted for The Asham Award 2009
- Joint winner of the Penguin/Decibel Prize 2008 - Asian Invisible. Published as The Map of Me
- Highly Commended in The National Galleries of Scotland Short Story Competition 2008
- Runner-up in Segora Short Story Prize 2008
- Joint Winner of The Lancet Short Story Competition 2007: The Resurrection Girl.
- Runner-up in Virgin Trains/The Guardian Short Story Competition 2007: A Small Revolution
- Winner of the Woman and Home Short Story Competition 2006: Ghosts of Jamaica.
- Shortlisted for The Asham Award 2005
- Runner-up in the Good Housekeeping Short Story Competition 2003
- Winner of The Sunday Telegraph Tourism for Tomorrow Travel Writing Competition 2002: Wolves of Rumania. Winner
- Winner and also Winner of Most Original Short Story in the Competition in Trowell and District Writers' Competition 2006