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Friday, June 15, 2018

Learning to Write: My 6th Grade Autobiography!

      As a writer, the biggest fear we have should not be rejection. Some people aren’t going to like our style or our message. We can learn to deal with this. 

     At some point, we have to try. Besides, even JK Rowling took the pass overs.

     As statistics professor Mike Desantis (RIP) would say, "You've done your best. Now move on." He's right. After publishing once, it's easier to publish twice, even if it's just self published stuff.

     The real problem is (as South Park said) that The Simpsons did it first. The point is that our ideas get used by other people, and if we don't get to it quickly, the opportunity will vanish in front of us.

      Here, I think of my idea for a Roger Maris story in 1998 that became 61* when Billy Crystal did it first. While it was too late to write the Maris story (even with Mark McGwire references), I did write a version of that later on from his wife's perspective. It became an assignment for a fiction class I took in college. I may yet do something more with that, so someday, you can read it.

      Other ideas appear to be plagiarism because things we might like to do or actually do, things that seem so original, are already out there in the ether, floating around. We go on doing our thing, but then later on, we discover this. I can name more than a few examples of this. We all can. X, Y, and Z have no lawsuit on me, so I'm not going to let them prey on the royalties I have from 8 fans of wendigoes in my supernatural writing. Besides, in at least one case, the other version of a small idea I used was made for TV slop marketed to 90s girls who would have liked the Hardy Boys TV show in the 1970s.

      Is this our collective unconscious or the Akashic Record allowing several people to simultaneously invent things because of our learning up until this point (or is listening to Ancient Aliens while napping)? Who am I to say, but the reality is there’s nothing new under the sun, so it's our job to hope that we don't get that lawsuit or P word accusation... at least until we make mad Taylor Swift bank (and I know I'd like some of that).  She's either ironclad, or the phrase "Not significantly original" really does apply to "Shake it Off."

  "In order for such short phrases to be protected under the Copyright Act, they must be more creative than the lyrics at issue here," the judge rules

      Unfortunately, when people don't have creative abilities, they look to get a part of those who do. This brings star chasing lawyers to successful ideas by authors who never were as successful as they could have been (cue the JK Rowling Blues and TS Eliot was a Plagiarist). Here, it's important to note, much of my writing is in this category, so don't pilfer my ideas, or I'll go all Hulkamania on you (wait, that was used).

      To me, if we know what’s true, all is good. The bigger problem is not to do it in the first place. Make it happen. Start somewhere for this. If you and someone you know have similar ideas, so be it. Consider yourselves to be part of a similar literary generation.

     In 6th grade, my teacher Mr. Stocker, who was very influential in my education and life, assigned us my favorite homework topic of all time: an autobiography. Seeing as it was a springboard to writing now, I truly appreciate it. That said, the older me would want more details out of that 6th grade whippersnapper! 

      "Five pages handwritten! What kind of a slacker are you? More, more, more! Details are everything! Let it flow, man!"

            "Uh, dude, I'm 12. Back off."

      He gave me an A, and I'm happy for that. He respected hard work. Nevertheless, while I joke about the above, it's strange to look back on 11-12 and think about what matters and what doesn't. My stuff is vague, but it represents an iceberg to what it become via mad letter writing and journaling sessions in my Air Force days (on paper, no less!).  

      Here, I give you a classic work of literature - that 6th grade autobiography. I've left out the table of contents and outline, but you get the pictures. Feel free to steal ideas from it. I have no intent to disrupt your fair use or roll on the floor laughter. Besides, I have no mad bank to pay for Taylor's lawyers.


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