Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Diva-Fitting Over Pottery

(I know, I know, I know, this is a diva rant post. I'll try not to have you suffer more of this.)

So, a long long time ago (read: when I was 17), I wrote a monologue to mend my heart. I read from it more times than I can remember. It got published in an anthology. I got fan mail. I got to sign people's copies of the anthology at its launch. I was amazed that my glorified journal entries could be so important to others. New things started coming along. Somewhere in the course of all this, my fractured heart mended, and eventually I began to not be so interested in this particular monologue anymore. It was personal, it was brutally real, and it stole my breath away each time I remembered why had I to write it, how I could not not write it at the time. But it was also closure.

Then, more recently, the monologue found its way into people's blogs, and for this I was grateful to the bloggers who gave my little one a home on the internet.

Then, before I knew it, there were shades of this monologue appearing everywhere. On other people's blogs, poems, and well, monologues. Snippets were shown to me by mutual friends. At first, I thought, "Hey, it's just internalization, happens to the best of us. Friends have shown me work with verbatim sentences from mine before, unintentional plagiarism. And I've probably done the same at some point. Imitation, sincere flattery and all that". Then the more I saw, the more I started to cringe. Because the problem with the new snippets and pieces I read was not just that they were derivative. It's that they, well -- it's like the author took a hammer to a piece of pottery I made, and then stuck the chips back together to try and make a new pot.

(And that's exactly the kind of metaphors I was using at the time I wrote this infamous monologue.)

What am I supposed to think and feel? I would hate to be nasty to anyone, especially if they've only been writing for a short while, and I have no intention of calling out anyone on it. I remember that in my mid-teens the influence of everything I read showed up in my work, not in direct quotes but in things like mood and style, and I guess I never anticipated how strange it feels to be on the receiving end of thinly-concealed flattery (and oui, the messenger has confirmed in every case that the monologue was read, and enjoyed if not fawned over).

On the one hand, it must be a good thing, that this work resonates for others. Still, I can't help feeling somehow... gutted. And I can't explain why.


Anonymous Sashi said...

Where in cyber-ia is this masterpiece to be had for reading? :)

4:13 AM  
Blogger Sharanya Manivannan said...

@Sashi - Blergh. Why don't you read the excerpt from my novel in QLRS instead? :)

6:52 PM  

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