Plagiarizing My Own Work

Many years ago, I came across an idea for a beautiful allegory. I took that idea, and wrote that beautiful allegory.

At the same time, a dear friend had a baby, and asked for writings that could be shared with the child as she grew up. I gave her a few things, including the allegory.

Also at the same time, an organization we were both part of had a writing contest.

Unbeknownst to me, my friend submitted my allegory.

It won.

I declined the prize, because the original idea was not my own.

I didn’t think much more about it. It never occurred to me that the piece was now “out there,” having been published as the winning piece (before I knew anything about it).

Fast forward a couple decades, more or less.

Editing a work for a client, I looked up a reference to something in another book to fact-check it. The reference was correct.

But on the next page, there was my allegory.

Interesting.

I checked before and after the piece, and the copyright page. No credit to anyone, or mention that the allegory was not her own. (The book was written by the wife of a very-big-name pastor and published by his ministry, several years ago.)

Well, I know how these things go. Friend passes it to friend, it gets posted online somewhere…it’s feathers in the wind. That author and/or publisher may have tried to find the source, and couldn’t. They may have thought it was public domain.

Whatever. I’m not upset about it. If they’d found me and asked, I’d have given permission anyway.

(FYI, though: no legitimate publisher will print something without knowing where it came from. So don’t try it!)

Point is, the beautiful allegory is out, under someone else’s name. Even that doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me is that I can’t use it, or I could be accused of plagiarizing my own work!

Now isn’t that something?

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2021 at 5:35 am

    That’s no fun

    Reply

  2. That’s crazy, but I guess, with so many places things can be copied, it is going to happen more than we know. How are you doing? We are still in Tucson and my Jim is now the Grand Sentinel of Arizona…. he’s already a PGP of Utah, so how did this happen? He had a bad year in Utah and decided to try it again here in AZ. He had to stay in this office an extra year (no GC in 2020), but now we’ll be able to continue on to WGP in 2023. We had the covid back in December, but both came through it with few lasting problems. Stay well, Laurel

    Reply

  3. Do we get to read the allegory? I’d love to know it’s yours even if you can’t officially claim it.

    Reply

  4. Hi Teresa,  Just wanted to say this was a fascinating story and that, as with Len, if you are up for sharing the quote, I’d be interested to read it also…  Glad you wrote this. Mary Jo    Mary Jo Doig, author  Facilitator of Women’s Life-Writing & OWL Workshopsdoig.maryjo@gmail.commaryjodoig.com  Patchwork: A Memoir of Love and Loss

      

    Reply

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