Having a younger sister almost guarantees that, for at least a certain portion of life, someone will be copying you. Sure, it used to annoy me, but at the root of it, I still found it endearing. (If anything, she acquired many more "you're so cute" stares when my Osh Kosh overalls would drown her.)
But now, when it comes to writing, I'm not sure how I feel about the idea. The last few weeks have forced me to examine this notion. In my poetry workshop, a fellow student took the first stanza of my poem and wove his own ending. There are also two acquaintances who, after giving them a brief run down of my novel, have decided to write one with identical themes. None of these scenarios manage to excite me the way my baby sister did. Perhaps the flaw is in me?
Is it fair for someone to just grasp your unpublished thoughts, alter them slightly, and claim them as their own? It's funny because when I asked non-writers this, they've said, "yeah, take it as a compliment. Someone likes your work that much" or "you've inspired another person. That's only something to be happy about."
But when I posed this question at a writer's group, everyone unanimously agreed that it was bullshit. One of my friends went as far to say, "I find it extremely offensive when someone thinks they can just use my words and ideas."
My world is blanketed in shades of gray; there isn't always a clear cut conclusion for everything.
Are there indistinguishable threads between inspiration and imitation?