So for once, someone said something significant on the internet. klmorgan
had this to say about why plagarists (and other pathological liars) go to the sheer effort it takes to support themselves:
"So, whitemunin asks, why do plagiarists do this? Is it a lack of confidence in their own abilities? ...A total disregard of the obvious in pursuit of the drugs known as fame, recognition and accolades? Sheer laziness?
I'd say a good dollop of all of the above. But mostly? Fear.
There's a moment in the writing process -- or no, it's not even a moment, it's a thread that weaves itself through the entire undertaking -- where a voice in the back of your brain whispers: "no one will ever care." Not about your work, or your story, or the themes therein which are actually about you and your hopes and dreams and fears. We're attempting one of the most sophisticated and complex forms of communication, and the greatest fear isn't that people won't like what we have to say -- it's that no one will stick around to hear it in the first place. Writing is storytelling, and storytelling is not entertaining a brick wall. There has to be an audience, and a connection with that audience. The lack of which, sadly, can invalidate the whole thing. You're not much of an author if no one reads your stuff.
So encountering that whispered fear is really what determines who you are as a writer. Some people listen to it and think, "fuck it. If no cares about this, they'll care about the next one, or the one after that. In the meantime, I care, and that's the point."
Others give up writing in despair, or let themselves becomes blocked in the hope of discovering that fail-proof plot (or technique) that's impossible to ignore.
And the rest? The rest of them think: "well, I'll just supplement my own writing with stuff I know has gotten attention, fans, and accolades. That will give me the boost I need."
Which may sound clever, logically, but it's like cheating on your SATs. Others may have taken the greater risk of relying on their own merits, but at least they know where they belong -- and how to work with what they have. You, on the other hand, got into Harvard, but are you smart enough to stay there? Maybe not. So you cheat on your midterms, too, and you cheat on your finals, and eventually you graduate summa cum laude, entirely convinced the only way to get anywhere is to fake it. You've never failed, because you've always worked with a safety net. So despite the time and stress it may take to cheat, it's better than the awful suspicion without that safety net, you will automatically come to a bad end. And by this point, your audience is too big. You can't risk it.
(And I have to say, as someone who's been on both sides of the fence; plagiarism is not as hard as it looks. It seems hard, because your accusers have to go through so much material and so many potential sources to discover what you've done. But it's easy for a plagiarizer to be read a book and think, "hey, great idea/passage/turn of phrase, here," and A) copy it down for later reference or B) immediately insert it into whatever story they are writing. CC herself claims she does the former. As for the show quotes -- well, if you ever hang around devoted fans of those particular shows (Buffy, Dr. Who, etc), you'll find they are catalogued and quoted ad nauseum on message boards and fansites. She wouldn't have the chance to forget them -- and neither have I when it comes to Buffy, unfortunately.)
And that awe from the crowd becomes a dangerous substitute for the creative rush you would be getting, if you were ever creative. Instead of the victory over your own insecurities, or the triumph that comes from a well-crafted passage and the knowledge that you can spin a story out of thin air, the only satisfaction your writing can afford you is how many people love what you post.
And it is quantity, not quality, that matters at this point. After all, if someone writes a long, involved email praising your dialogue and execution of phrase -- well, how much pleasure can that afford you, really, when you've cribbed it from somewhere else?
But when a lot of people like your work -- oh, well, you've got something there. Because these people don't all like Buffy, Dr. Who, "Gone With the Wind," Pamela Dean, LM Montgomery, etc -- but they all looooooove you. Which makes you the common denominator! You must be doing something right, you decide; you must be possessed of ingenious talent, to be able to marry these disparate elements into a cohesive, enjoyable narrative. This is a talent, but it is not the talent of creativity. Deep inside, you know that, because you're not an idiot -- you were smart enough to fool this many people for this long. And after all that practice, you've become good enough to even fool yourself and make believe it won't be that hard to start afresh and publish a new, completely original story of merit. But screw whether or not you have the creativity -- you don't have the experience of even trying, ever, so you end up right where you started."
That I think hits the nail on the head. As I labor my own novel, and random bits of crappy poetry, you do fear that all this time, effort, and soul searching is in vain. I just never thought anyone else was afraid of this, but I think alot of hopeful porfessional writers are. Your writing is often your hopes, fears, hates, experiences, passions, and dreams in a solidified form. And as you dare to hold as good piece of yourself before the rest of your kind you are afraid you really are as insignificant, stupid, and umimportant as you think you are.
However though, your writing does matter to yourself and ulitmately the best you can ever hope for is what you find reflecting back at you, while not always comforting its at least true and you can hold it in your heart as you continue to walk down life's path.