WRITING TIP: Use and acknowledge your influences

WRITING TIP: Use and acknowledge your influences.
Everyone wants to be original and we think of plagerism as a kind of sin, but we can take this too far. Mark Twain reminds us to avoid getting too proud and sure about our originality, because nothing we create is really just ours: “When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men – but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington’s battle, in some degree, and we call it his; but there are others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone or any other important thing – and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite – that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.”