There has only been one event in my life that has been more traumatic than having my story, lovingly and painstakingly written over the course of many months, stolen and skewed by someone in my own community. As one writer says, plagiarism is a very personal offense, so personal that it is difficult for him to talk about his own experience after fourteen years.
But with all the added drama in my case, it also feels like a literal physical attack. FEELS, not felt, because I’m still dealing with it every day and could be for another year or more. The time loss is alone is staggering. Time I could be spending with my children. Time I could have been writing. The lifetime earnings I won’t make on the book I didn’t write in these past months is something I’ll never recoup.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Rushton is no longer teaching, according to parents who made sure the school district acted after they discovered that she used their children’s names as aliases to review her books and attack and harass me. But they tell me the school district sent out a letter saying that she was not teaching because of knee surgery. No mention of stealing books or children’s names. From what I understand, the knee surgery was not the reason she was removed, but no doubt they would not appreciate negative publicity.
What else do I let her steal?
She stole my book. Do I let her steal my financial future by getting into huge debt to pay for a judge to make her stop? If I don’t, I might as well just email her all my future manuscripts because there will be nothing to stop her from plagiarizing them as well.
Plagiarism is personal. Life for me has been altered.
Would I fight for author rights again?
Would I do it again? Take her to court. Would it have been better just to police her quietly and make sure she didn’t plagiarize me again? Think of it: no more alias attacks on the Go Fund Me, no more wasted time, no more emotional breakdowns. No more sleepless nights worrying about losing my entire savings and taking on huge debt that will never be reimbursed even after judgment (think about how hard it is for women to get child support). No more days wasted on the case.
Would it have been better for Chase Weston not to know his story had been stolen and skewed? Would the victim children and their parents prefer never to know that their children’s names and email addresses were being use to review erotica? Maybe they would deal better with that in ten years when they went to make their own Goodreads and Facebook accounts and found the fake accounts. Would the school district been better off not having to find another teacher or write her excuses?
You tell me. I do know that I want my life back the way it was before my book was plagiarized. Not many people can understand how truly horrible this has been. People are full of advice and comfort, and I have greatly appreciated this, but at the end of the day, I’m still the one holding this huge bag of emotion and debt. In two months, the bills total $16,000 and there is no end in site. I’m afraid to see what the October bill will bring. I’m not a NYT bestelling author, and that represents a huge amount of money to my family. And that was just for two months. If the case drags on for two, three, or more years, it could be upwards of $200,000.
Return to normal
I wish this could go away. I wish that Rushton would have taken responsibility so we could have resolved this between the two of us. I wish I could trust that she wouldn’t simply republish my book and others under a different pen name. Sadly, the coments under the aliases shows a return to normal for me is not likely to happen unless a court order is involved. From all I can see, she doesn’t feel she’s done anything wrong.
One thing for sure is that I will never be as trusting as I once was. If that is not personal, I don’t know what is.
If you think it’s important to get this into court, I need your help. I need you to share this, to do what you can to let people hear about it. I know there are a lot of important causes, and I respect that. I never thought this would be me. But it is. Next time, if I don’t stop her, it could be anyone.