Monday, May 21, 2018

Something a lot of us have in common: we were accused of plagiarism at a young age, often by a teacher. It happened to me and it happened to my fiancé. It's a crushing experience: here's my story.

7th Grade English. I had written a book report on Eyes of the Dragon by @StephenKing. I had also been reading the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Book of the Dead and was enamored with the Black Knight.

The mash-up Zorro and King Arthur hit me in all the right places. So I decided to write some fan fiction (circa 1990). I had never read a Black Knight comic. All I had was the summary of his life and death. It didn't matter, I had my own ideas.

I wrote a Sir Percy Origin story, where he avenges his parents death. In the penultimate encounter, Sir Percy slays a dragon.

I had switched schools made friends with the teachers in the way a new kid does when they are too inexperienced to know they are committing social suicide. I showed all my teachers the story. They were very impressed, except Ms. Fay.

Yes, my English teacher was named Ms. Fay. As in Morgan Le. I am not making this up. Having read my book report, Ms. Fay accused me of plagiarism, ignoring that there is no living dragon in Eyes of the Dragon. She was so sure of my crime she told all the other teachers.

I remember my science teacher telling me how disappointed she was that I stole my story. It shattered my heart in such a way the cracks still show on X-rays.

If you know a young writer, let them know it happens and that it's coming. And let them know you believe them, no matter what.

To this day, I love the Black Knight. I have a great pitch simmering on my hard drive. Something no one else has ever done with the character. And I made it all up myself, promise.