When I was in third or fourth grade, I started a writers’ club and invited a bunch of my friends to join. We had our first meeting at my house and I was all in a kerfuffle about who would come and what kind of story they would bring. The first guest to arrive showed me her story about a beautiful black horse. At first I was impressed. Then it dawned on me that she had simply copied Black Beauty.
“You can’t do that!” I scolded. Plagiarism wasn’t in my vocabulary yet, but I was indignantly aware of the concept. Later, my mother scolded me. “Let her write what she wants,” she said. “What do you care?”
A few more members arrived and I was giddy with power, having appointed myself president.
“Can’t we say we’re writing but just play?” asked one of the arrivals. I was furious but held my tongue. I gave in to the small troupe and we played with My Little Ponies and Barbie Dolls while I grumbled to myself and lamented the first and last meeting of my writers’ club.