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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Inspiration/Block (for the writer) (05/20/10)

TITLE: Life Sentence: A Cautionary Fable
By Lucile McKenzie


Wistfully, Morgan recalled how happy he once had been. He was a good writer, worked hard at it, did honest research, and loved the hours he spent at the computer. He held his own with anyone when it came to creating succinct sentences, colorful descriptions, or memorable dialogues.

So he didn’t really know why it happened or even how it had begun. Somehow, along the way it just got easier to, well, “borrow,” as he rationalized it, a nicely turned phrase or a vivid paragraph from another writer and insert it into his own work. As time went on this borrowing became more frequent--a character from one writer’s short story, a scene from another’s novel. Now and then he even pilfered a complete chapter. Amazingly, except for a few disgruntled objections and occasional lawsuit threats from a couple of vigilant authors whose work he had filched, he got away with it. His conscience bothered him a lot at first, whispering in his heart, “This is wrong, Morgan,” but he pushed it away until eventually the writing thefts became a game he always won.

Until the night he was working on what he planned would be his blockbuster novel. He had taken the liberty of snatching the entire plot from a novel that was on the New York Times bestseller list for fifteen weeks, and felt that with a little tweaking here and there, it would fly nicely under his name. Suddenly, before his startled eyes, letters appeared on his computer screen.

“Morgan, during your lifetime you have been abundantly blessed with a writing talent. However, creativity, like any other gift, must be nurtured and polished with the oil of hard work, diligence, and integrity. But you have chosen the easy way. You have opted to ride to fame on the words of your fellow writers. You were an honest and true writer, with an important message for the world. By giving in to this temptation and showing no remorse, you have committed the unpardonable and unforgivable act of betrayal to your gift.”

What …” Morgan looked down at his hands. He hadn’t touched the keys. He hit the delete key. Nothing happened. He tried to shut the computer off, but the frightening words remained. As he stared, trembling and transfixed, more words appeared.

“Morgan, for the unsavory sin of plagiarism, you will live all the rest of your life with an intense need to write, driven by the desire, but never finding the words. In short, Morgan, you will dwell forever in a continuous state of writer’s block.”

The screen went dark, and then the whiteness of a pristine, blank page appeared, never to be sullied by the words of the sweating, tormented, so-called writer sitting at the keyboard.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Dana McReynolds05/28/10
Very interesting take on the topic. Great job!
AnneRene' Capp 05/30/10
Oh wow! How terribly terrifying to be driven to write in a state of continual writers block! Very creative. Liked your phrase: nutured and polished with the oil of hard work.
Mildred Sheldon05/30/10
Horrible sentence for a writer who decided to take short cuts. Sounds like the world we live in. Good job.
Virgil Youngblood 06/02/10
Whatsoever a man sows, that also shall he reap. You've shown well the consequences a little folly can cause.