The Art Of Plagiarism

Q.R. Markham -- aka Quentin Rowan (aka The Guy Who Plagiarized That Spy Book) -- has written a, well, essay(?) about the whole fiasco that occurred over the past few weeks. The piece, entitled "Confessions of a Plagiarist," is published at a website called The Fix. What is The Fix? Well, according to the website's subtitle, it addresses "addiction and recovery, straight up."

Because, you see, plagiarism is apparently an addiction.

Here are some favorite parts from the essay in question:

They call a person like me a Plagiarist. It’s one of the harsher words we have in our language. Perhaps not up there with Pedophile or Rapist, but not as far behind as you'd think either. For years, I’d been dreading being called that word, and marveled all the while that I'd somehow avoided being caught. I associated its three syllables strongly with public humiliation and shame. And though that’s exactly what I’ve received, the fact is I’m still here, still standing, and still sober for 15 straight years.

See what he did there? In not so many words, he says that yes, he may be a Plagiarist (that's plagiarist with a capital P!), but hey, he's been sober for 15 straight years, and that should be worth something, right?

Between the first piece of writing I stole in the library all those years ago and the debut of my fake spy thriller, I struggled with plagiarism in the same way others struggle with smoking, sex addiction, food addiction, and gambling. Especially gambling, where you're always chasing your last thrilling high, regardless of the awful consequences. I tried to practice the first step with my obsession many times, to admit I was powerless over it  and it was making my life unmanageable, but it never worked. I just couldn't let go of it. My whole identity had become that of an aspiring writer. I wanted to be famous.

Ironically, this whole thing has made him more famous than the simple publication of his "fake spy thriller."

It wasn't any fun: I would look at the books on my shelf and think, "Oh, that's a great book. Oh, Wait a minute, I stole from it." And then I’d have to hide the book somewhere so it didn’t remind me I’d stolen from it. If the books were people, it would be akin to domestic abuse: I was hurting the ones I loved.

And yet the book kept coming back out of hiding, looking for more abuse.

In all honesty, I don't want to make light of this situation. It sucks for pretty much everyone involved, and it's great that the guy managed to maintain his sobriety for all these years. Can plagiarism be an addiction? I don't see why not. Pretty much anything can become an addiction. But if you read the entire essay or article or, well, confession, you'll notice one important fact: not once does Rowan apologize for his actions.

So is Rowan addicted to plagiarizing?


Is he sorry for doing it?

No so much.

But don't worry -- I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear from Q.R. Markham, or Quentin Rowan, or The Guy Who Plagiarized That Spy Book. I wouldn't be surprised if a publisher somewhere down the road gives him a second chance. After all, everyone loves a good comeback story, especially when those comeback stories involve overcoming diseases.