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Rhyme and Misdemeanors

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Dec. 7th, 2015 | 12:55 pm

As a freelance editor, I frequently hear from authors who are worried that if they join a writing group, show their manuscript to an editor, or submit it to an agent, their words will be stolen.

American authors often put a copyright notice on their work, which is usually unnecessary before publication—a written work is under copyright from the moment it’s created in a ‘fixed form,’ with or without the circled C, and with or without registration of the copyright.

While after-publication theft is a growing problem in self-published romance novels (thieves download a PDF, retitle, and re-list it as their own work), it’s unheard-of for a legit industry professional to plagiarize an author’s work. Generally, if someone likes a book enough to want to sell it, they’ll go ahead and work with the author—it’s a lot less hassle. If they're in business to rip you off, they want your money, not your book.

Still, sharing your work with a stranger requires a measure of trust, and some authors are wary.

To those authors, I dedicate this poem.



I steal every poem I see with no copyright note.
I print them on bathroom walls with black markers.
I recite them aloud at weddings when the priest asks if anyone here objects.
I inscribe them on prayer bells and ring them to Heaven for the Buddha.
And I never, ever credit the author.

I steal every poem I see by an unknown author,
smothering their feeble protests with my literary might.
I sell them on corners in inner cities. If a slumming suburbanite in a white SUV pulls up and gives me a twenty, a little kid on the next corner will run out and recite a sestina or haiku.
I mutter them sullenly to cops who ask if I know why they're talking to me today.
Authors who fail to circle-c turn corners to find their work staring down from forty-foot vodka advertisements,
while I get rich on the proceeds and never feel guilt.

When the cab driver asks, where to? I tell him in your trochees
I cram couplets into hopscotch rhymes.
At parties I whisper assonance into the ears of strangers,
Use your words to hook up in the guest bathroom.
Before Mass, I confess your poem.

I used your poem on Craigslist to freecycle my old loveseat,
Covering the stains with metaphors.
The slant rhyme did justice to the blue velour cover. Without your poem
I surely would not have been offered a crockpot in exchange,
I would not now be dining on the slow-cooked iambs of your sonnet
Sucking carefully considered anaphora from the bones.



_________________________________________________
Whipchick had a great time looking up poetic terms. Her favorite is zeugma.



.

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Comments {63}

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orockthro

(no subject)

from: orockthro
date: Dec. 7th, 2015 06:08 pm (UTC)
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Ooooh I really enjoyed that. :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 7th, 2015 06:23 pm (UTC)
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Thanks!

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solopolist

(no subject)

from: ceelove
date: Dec. 7th, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC)
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So if one would like to repost this poem, and give credit to the author, what should one do?

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 7th, 2015 07:12 pm (UTC)
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One should post the link and a quote rather than the whole thing, please :) One of the ways I use LJ is as a place to test out work and get feedback. Later, when I feel like a piece is finished and ready to submit for publication, I go back and make the post private, because most publications won't accept work that's been "published" online already. I probably don't have enough readers for this to count, but I don't want to find out I can't sell something later because it's already been around. Does that work for the context you're thinking of?

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Didn't want to be

(no subject)

from: anyonesghost
date: Dec. 7th, 2015 06:38 pm (UTC)
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I think the last time I whispered an assonance, someone punched me. You can keep that couplet! (Nice work!)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 7th, 2015 07:13 pm (UTC)
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Hahaha thanks!

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Ray Raddatz

Copyright

from: Ray Raddatz
date: Dec. 7th, 2015 07:19 pm (UTC)
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I work with authors publishing their thesis and dissertations and they're always concerned about registering for copyright.

It's really about the damages you can seek if you're infringed upon so, most of the time, it's simply not worth it.

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whipchick

Re: Copyright

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:30 am (UTC)
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So true! I wish more people knew about that.

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dragon

(no subject)

from: dragonwrites
date: Dec. 7th, 2015 08:53 pm (UTC)
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Ha ha. Based on search terms (back when you could still get those), I'm fairly certain that an undergrad once copied a piece of my flash fiction to turn in for a creative writing class, but I'm not worried that anyone's making *money* off my work. I mean, I'm totally vested in my writing and I can't make money off it. It someone else is having better luck, I'd like to know how.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:33 am (UTC)
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Weird! Yeah - I'm navigating right now how to sell my work. It's hard to get focused because I like to write so many different things. Are you ever interesting in self-pub? It was such a dirty word when we were in grad school, but it seems like a lot of authors in genre fiction are doing well. Don't know if I want to put in that much work :)

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rayaso

(no subject)

from: rayaso
date: Dec. 8th, 2015 12:17 am (UTC)
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I loved the poem, especially the irony. Also, good advice on publishing - a twofer!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:33 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I've been learning a lot about the industry the past couple years :)

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Jenn

(no subject)

from: kickthehobbit
date: Dec. 8th, 2015 12:43 am (UTC)
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I love this (as always :) )

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:34 am (UTC)
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Thank you!

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blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Dec. 8th, 2015 12:48 am (UTC)
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Love this. Love the sestina drug deal. Love covering the stains with metaphors.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:34 am (UTC)
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Thanks :)

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John Louis

(no subject)

from: grail76
date: Dec. 8th, 2015 02:16 am (UTC)
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Nice. :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:40 am (UTC)
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Thanks!

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Teo Says

(no subject)

from: eternal_ot
date: Dec. 8th, 2015 11:10 am (UTC)
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LOL..this was AWESOME..:)..*applause* Great advice too. Lovely work! Kudos!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:40 am (UTC)
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Thank you!

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tonithegreat

(no subject)

from: tonithegreat
date: Dec. 8th, 2015 01:51 pm (UTC)
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Covering the loveseat stains with metaphors was my favorite, too! Ah, assonance. Delightful!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:40 am (UTC)
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Thanks so much!

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dejla

(no subject)

from: dejla
date: Dec. 8th, 2015 03:01 pm (UTC)
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Fascinating poem!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:54 am (UTC)
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Thanks!

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morettaallstar

(no subject)

from: morettaallstar
date: Dec. 8th, 2015 08:21 pm (UTC)
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I really like these two, for some reason:
- I used your poem on Craigslist to freecycle my old loveseat,
Covering the stains with metaphors.
- I would not now be dining on the slow-cooked iambs of your sonnet
Sucking carefully considered anaphora from the bones.

Nice to whisper out loud. :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:55 am (UTC)
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Thanks - that last stanza was the toughest to make feel right :)

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Raised by Wolves

(no subject)

from: sinnamongirl
date: Dec. 8th, 2015 09:30 pm (UTC)
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I am so wildly in love with this poem.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:55 am (UTC)
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What a great compliment - thanks!

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dmousey

(no subject)

from: dmousey
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 01:14 am (UTC)
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Still wanna be just like you when I grow up! ( Smiles)
Peace~~~D

Edited at 2015-12-09 01:14 am (UTC)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 9th, 2015 10:54 am (UTC)
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(hug) thanks :)

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