Something on the radio put me in mind of early school days this morning, when your desk-mate would cup their hand over their writing to stop you indulging in a bit of instant plagiarism.
The only time I was tempted to do this was during Maths lessons - I was hopeless at Maths. I don't mean a bit hopeless, I mean completely and utterly hopeless. To give you an idea of how hopeless, I can tell you I scored a magnificent zero for my Maths 'O' Level.
I loved essays, and I found them a breeze. If I happened to be sitting next to a boy who was struggling with his free prose and I happened to glance in his direction whilst thinking of something else, and he shielded his half-written masterpiece with his left hand, I would think, why the hell do you think I would want to copy you?
A silly person I once knew, decided that she was going to be a writer. "All I need is some ideas," she actually said, "Have you got any?"
Prince Charles - at some literary function - once asked a female writer where she got her ideas from. "Harrods'', was her brilliant answer. This was before Al Fayed bought the place and ceremoniously burnt the wood Wales Feathers in his garden.
It is difficult - not to say impossible - to avoid plagiarism in any form of the Arts. The reason why there is so much bad art around is because most bad artists are trying too hard to avoid copying others as they struggle to find a 'voice'. "If I say it's Art, then it is." No it isn't, actually.
My favourite musical quote (I have temporarily forgotten who said it) is, "Composing is remembering a melody which nobody else has thought of." That really sums it up - the idea that there is nothing new under the sun, but it is still possible to be uniquely original.
People who make things look easy are just very relaxed. How are you, in yourself? (as the old Irish greeting goes).
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