My Confession About My “Copied” Features
Recently in the blogosphere there has been a lot flying around about copying and inspiration. Cait @ Paper Fury covered the differences pretty well, Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Book Reviews also chimed in about inspiration and her situation and why she doesn’t want to write discussion posts, and Evie @ Bookish Lifestyle did a sound off on copying. I am sure there are more also coming out, but these are the ones I have seen.
Lexxie had a situation where she created a challenge that was very similar to someone else’s. She emailed the blogger and asked if it would be okay. My confession is similar, but different.
When January rolled around, I decided to start my own feature. Not a weekly meme hosted by someone else, but something personal and meaningful to me on my blog. Famous Last Words was born and so far has appeared the third Thursday of each month. I never gave a second thought to it. This was my content created from my idea based on a very personal experience. In my little blurb in each post, I talk about how I came by the idea because I was inspired by Pudge in Looking for Alaska by John Green.
After the second installment of my feature came out, I discovered another blogger who has a feature with the same title. When I learned this, I researched and went digging to find the origin. Was this a meme (that wasn’t credited to the host) or is this her own self-created feature? How and why did she start it? I didn’t find answers to any of my questions. So I continued my own feature without contacting her.
There’s more to the story that I haven’t shared.
Or at least connected the dots for readers.
I have talked in the past or referenced on more than one occasion (and again)about my cousin who committed suicide. In fact, I was dating the man back then during that time, and he took me the nearly two hours home because I couldn’t drive. Interestingly enough, they share the same name. This TTT was my most recent post really coming out about the entire suicide-book relationship.
I even talked about Pudge and The Colonel in a Thoughts on Thursday post about book baes and friends. After looking back at it, I realize that my cousin was a mix of everything I said about Pudge and The Colonel. He was a thoughtful friend who pondered deep subjects – although he rarely let on. He read the Bible in 7th grade at school during silent reading time. It ended up pissing off teachers because it ended up sparking students having their own conversations (respectfully) about religion outside of class, but the damage was done and the buzz was buzzing. Really, it was because the teacher was Jewish – and I know this because I later had this same teacher.
Whatever you are picturing, my cousin was not.
He was not a holy roller Christian. He was not someone who had that religious, wholesome look. He was not a devout church goer.
He was none of those things.
Instead, he was so far from what you would think. And that was the plague that dogged him all through school because he chose to embrace his difference and show it to all who cared. My cousin was bold and daring. He didn’t look before he leaped – unless others were involved. He was fiercely loyal and would take the blame for someone else. My cousin looked and acted differently, and teachers associate that negatively. Things about kids get around, and everyone knew who my cousin was the minute they saw him.
They didn’t know what to look at first: his dangling skull earrings, the long sweeping black trench coat that led their eye down to the clunky Doc Martens or up to his elaborately spiked and distinctly colored hair.
Is this the kind of kid you would expect to have other students asking him about Jesus, God and the Bible? Probably not.
He looks like a punk teen who could have been arrested. And he was. For standing his ground and standing up for himself in the right way when a principal laid hands on him. The school district and superintendent had a very hard time explaining that one, and he was arrested under false pretenses. You cannot assault a person and then have them arrested for unhanding and extraditing from the situation to get away.
My cousin was 27 when he committed suicide – with two small children both below the age of five. I really can’t say later in life he started religiously attending Cowboy church services because he was only 27. He didn’t have a “later in life.” But as an adult who was also a parent, he sought out the very thing that started all his troubles – the Bible. The pastor of the Cowboy church gave testimony at his funeral service about how he had been sought out multiple times to consult on interpretations of the Bible and application to life. A coworker shared his own story of struggling in life, and how my cousin counseled him and tried to help him through a serious situation by referencing the Bible and talking him through things.
The night we lost him, I knew. I talked about my premonition dreams before on the blog, and what I didn’t share was I also have premonitions or signs of other sorts. It isn’t all the time, it is very subtle. Again, I was dating the man at the time. I was with the man that night. The man woke me up because I was thrashing all around in bed and making a strange noise – like a whining, a keening sound. I remember sitting up straight in bed and just looking at the man and feeling empty. Like I was looking through a ghost.
I later found out my thrashing fit was within the same thirty minute window in which my cousin took his own life, locked and barricaded behind his bedroom door with his two sleeping babies only two rooms away.
About six months before I had read Looking for Alaska as a required reading for my adolescent literature class. I fell in love with Pudge and his friends, and I was heartbroken for Alaska. I would never have read the book AFTER. I thank my lucky stars regularly that something in the planets aligned and I was put in that specific class that spring semester and I had time to ponder over the book because it later served as a Bible of sorts for me trying desperately to understand my cousin’s actions. I now sleep with Looking for Alaska on my headboard, near to me always.
But there’s more. I didn’t create this feature only because Pudge is fascinated with peoples’ last words.
I created the feature because of the famous last words of my cousin, the ones he left on his mother’s and sister’s voicemails directly before he took his own life.
He was an only son and the first grandson. A year and a half later, his cohort, his best friend, his buddy through thick and thin, died in a single-car crash. His sister asked if he died on impact or would have survived. His shins were shattered and every bone in his face broken. Even if he had lived, he would have been a vegetable.
He was also my cousin – an only son. The second grandson.
At the time I believed it was also suicide. There had been an incident before but was an accident. Many in our family are left wondering still from the famous last words of a single text message.
That is the real reason and origin of my feature.
13 thoughts on “Thoughts on Thursday: My Confession About My “Copied” Features”
Thank you for sharing the heartbreaking situation that made you come up with your Famous Last Words feature, Charlie! It’s so sad, and at the same time, you have found a beautiful way to honor your cousin’s memory! I’m glad you’ve been able to find an outlet on the blog, your feature is definitely not a copy of anything else – even the name ‘Famous Last Words’ is not something that was just ‘invented’ a few years ago.
Thank you, Lexxie. I have waited a long time to attempt this because I didn’t think I could. But he has been more on my mind in the last year, and the man brings back all those memories.
Thanks for sharing your moving and very personal story, Charlie. I saddens me that your cousin took his own life when he seemed to live it with such gusto. But it’s wonderful you’ve found a way to keep him a part of your life, to memorialize him, with your feature. I don’t think you’re standing on any shaky ground with your feature at all. It’s very personal and specific to you.
Thank you, Brandee. It hasn’t been an easy road. You used the perfect word to describe him. He had moxie and he had gusto.
I’m so sorry Charlie. I know you’ve talked about your cousin before but seeing the pictures and hearing the story really gave me a picture of the man. I don’t think you’re copying though I can see why you’re worried and I think having this post is a good idea because if someone even hints that you’re copying you can just point them here.
Obviously, you came up with this idea on your own, so it wasn’t copying. Hopefully everyone involved in the situation will see it that way. Sorry if it’s caused you stress. Your cousin’s story is powerful and painful – I’m sure it’s been difficult to share it.
How heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing his story. I don’t feel it’s copying, because you have very specific source of where you get your inspiration.
Thank you for sharing your story.
As for the feature, I don’t think it’s copying. You have a very specific inspiration for your feature, for one thing, that has everything to do with your personal experiences and nothing to do with her already existing feature. Also, you created it without knowing about this other blogger’s feature – not in a vacuum, because nothing is created in a vacuum, but without knowledge of it. So definitely not copying or even inspiration from their feature.
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Wow! Such a moving story, and I wish I could have known him. I love, love, love people who want to talk about spiritual things and the Bible but aren’t interested in our cultural version of “Christianity”! I definitely don’t think you copied, and I’d love to know your cousins’ last words, but I respect your privacy to not share, of course!
Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday this week!
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