October 24, 2006

Can I Clarify A Few Things?

In my earlier post......

re: The Sarcastic Jesus Comment - that was merely a feeble attempt on my part to mask my increasing paranoia that Arun is not gaining weight. Yeah, he is fine, but in accordance with the Dictums of Motherhood, #442 "Thou shalt always worry about SOMETHING", I've been concerned about his weight despite repeated assurances from the lactation consultant and despite the fact that he is perfectly healthy and on target for his developmenal milestones. So, last night, when he sucked down TWO cups of soymilk in rapid succession, I almost cried with relief. While he would sip here and there on the "no spill" sippy cups, it was slow going. He totally snarfs down on a sippy cup of the "spill" variety, but DAMN, it's messy. The straw? Perfection.

re: Gifts of Gold - I hope I didn't come off as ungrateful or blase because it's quite the opposite. I just thought it was hilarious that such a precious thing would come in the equivalent of a retainer case. I am still in complete awe of my bangles - I've always wanted some and as a little girl was completely fascinated with my step-grandmother's bangles (each one has a story). Anyway, these babies never come off (well, except for the photo). I have to be careful not to look at them too much - I'm afraid I'll drive off the road. I'm THAT mesmerized by them. I think the sweetest part is that X dug them out of his laptop bag while we were still in the airport because HE was that excited to see my reaction.

re: Plagiarism - The whole concept has been a hot topic lately and is of interest to me, of which Monkey is well aware - I've been teasing her that I was going to swipe all her cool words (look for Goblin, Frock, and Mothership coming to a blog near you! Squee!) Anyway, what really interests me is the question "Where do we draw the line?" Obviously, swiping entire paragraphs IS plagiarism, but what about words and phrases or even writing techniques? For example, I came up BeelzeBush on my own, but I find it hard to believe that no one else has thought that up, too! And what about writing techniques? I ADORE WRITING IN ALL CAPS, but the technique has often been attributed to Dooce. What about Random Capitalization and seriously.inappropriate.punctuation? I wasn't influenced by anyone on that, either, but EVERYONE is doing it now. Who's zooming who here? However, interestingly enough, I noticed while reading My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Piccoult the author used ALL three of those techniques. Anyway, food for thought.

So, yeah, my post last night was pretty punchy. I guess I was in A Mood. But Hey! I shaved my legs this morning and mysteriously, all is right with the world again now that I am Bikini Ready.



dorothy said...

Note: Your site comes up weird on my blogroll. Go see if it happens to you. I had to go to archives to see this post. Weird.

On to the better stuff - in writing programs, they call such things as you describe "influences." A young writer is actually encouraged to borrow the styles of other, more writerly writers until he or she finds his or her own little style and grows into it.

That said, I've thought a lot about my writing style and my new, different blogging style. My blogging style looks only a little like my fiction style and nothing at all like my poetry style. I tend to end paragraphs with a short sentence.

I tend to use one-line sentences for effect.

And I have, I admit, grown way too fond of the inappropriate punctuation in the form of a question mark placed in the middle of the sentence. Also, "gah," which I think I stole from Amalah. There, I admit it. I used to use argh, like a pirate, and maybe I should go back to it.

So are we influenced or are we stealing? According to copyright law, you're stealing if you lift text word for word. It's much harder to steal an idea or a style, which is why influence continues to exist. There are also allusions, which to me are sort of plagiarism-ish, but seem to be acceptable.

Anyway, my two cents. I think you're paying Monkey a huge compliment by lifting and linking.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Wow, so I wrote out this complex comment and then POOF, internet explorer crashed.

1) Frock is from "Born Confused", Goblins were made famous by Amy Sedaris long before me. Mothership I did come up with on my own but it's because I spent so many years as an "alien", lol (legal, please put down the pitchforks).

2) Random capitalisation and punctuation...wtf, that shit goes back to the years of messageboards and whatever people had before messageboards (listserv's or something). Just because X or Y has been blogging longer or is famous it doesn't mean that they invented or developed such techniques, they have been around since people have been cracking jokes because they're just the written version of performance style...like when people emphasize things or slow down or enunciate in certain ways when relating anecdotes to try to amuse people. It's like Paris Hilton trying to copyright "hott"-ooh, I'm quaking in my boots.

3) I guess what I'm trying to say is that underneath similarity of execution and style, whether or not it's intentional or unintentional, comes out of a vacuum or whatever, your blog isn't cribbing when you're (reasonably regularly) coming up with subjects and things to write about relating to your own ideas, life, philosophies. That's what makes your blog uniquely you or my blog uniquely mine...the fact that sometimes the stuff I write about overlaps with another blog I may not even read doesn't bug me anymore. For instance, one time (before I delinked my old blog), I had an entry titled "Are You There Gods, It's Me Monkey" and I know I've seen the same blog post title on Non Vocabulum's blog when I was reading through her archives one time though I hadn't even read that particular post when I read the entry. Some things are just indelibly etched on the collective consciousness...like Judy Blume, apparently.

When some other bitch claims to be a hirsute desi lawyer who tries to work the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock into her legal memos for shits and giggles, THEN I'll start feeling outraged.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

When I wrote MY entry. I hadn't seen that title when I wrote my own Margaret entry.

Wordnerd said...

Uh oh. My blog is a compilation of thefts from other blogs. Why should I do all the work??? ;)

Jenn said...

OMG Writing in all caps is attributed to Dooce??? Like she fucking created the art of writing?!?!?
Let me guess? She was the FIRST to make up that word too?

As always your son is adorable...in fact he's SO cute I actually showed his picture to my mother the other day LOL

"wanna see the cutest baby with the most awsome eyes?"
"Not as awsome as my grandaughter!!!!"
"ok, not THAT awsome.....but close!"

Cagey said...

I've never seen Dooce to claim ALL CAPS writing was hers, but rather I've seen others attribute it to her. To the contrary, Dooce is very modest about her writing. I think it's a testament to her how humble and human she has remained despite her fame, unlike some other Power Bloggers who have let their readers down.

re: your mom - of COURSE, she is going to think Althea has the best eyes! For sure, Althea is going to breaking some hearts when she bats those baby blues. ;-)

Rozanne said...

I always worry that I'm unconsciously cribbing/plagiarizing. Like some word or fab turn of phrase I read will lodge in my brain and I'll be all proud of myself for thinking of it and in reality I "stole" it w/o even remembering.

Does that make sense?

Blondie said...

Good writers borrow; great writers steal.

OK, I didn't make that up and I have NO IDEA who did.

But I do work in publishing, so I know that you can't copyright "ideas." And if a word is used enough, it gets into the dictionary, so everyone should use everyone's words. :)