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Some weeks ago, I was reading a collection of short stories: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO INTERRACIAL LOVE by Kathleen Collins — a black woman who died about 40 years ago — and a particular story felt familiar but strange. I could rip that story out, attach my name to it, send to close friends who proofread most of my work, and they would swear I wrote it. I would swear I wrote it too if someone attached my name to it and send it to me, it felt so familiar that I could own it. The words could be mine, the pace, style, mix of humor, things hidden in plain sight, and words repeated for emphasis. It had several traces of my trademark in it. Kathleen must have plagiarized my thoughts before I was born.

This made me sit and ponder, 40 years after I die, will someone pick up any of my piece and be hit with that same jolt of familiarity?

Will someone I have never met recognize herself from the words I glue together?

Will she read my personal essay and swear that I peeped into her head?

Will her friends bite an iron before Ogun insisting that she wrote it?


Linda Caroll in her beautiful piece asked Do you write for money or attention?

I replied that, “I write a lot, but hoard a lot more. I’m learning to publish more, give my words wings so they can fly and hopefully someone can see meaning in the garbage I have created.

However, I write because I love to tell stories. There are infinite number of stories around me, I hope to capture a snippet of these stories and share instead of hoarding them.

There are many reasons people write. But that day, reading that story, I discovered another reason. Plagiarism might not be the right word for it. But when there is deja vu, when a writing seen for the first time is familiar. When two literary souls who have never met greet each other Namaste, thanks to words used in different combinations by different people.

When someone reads what I have written and without my knowing he recognizes it, even after I am dead, especially after I am dead. I won’t be here to feel it, but for that anticipated pleasure I will never know, for that butterfly in the belly that will never be my belly, I write.

For if I write only for adulation to be poured at my feet, why then should I write?

So Why do you Write?


This post was first published on the Writingcooperative.com

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