Are You One of a Kind? Write Like It.
There is often a fine line between plagiarism and tribute … medley and mad music … words of intellect and words of nonsense …
CENTO (senʹtō) n. – 1) a literary or musical work made up of passages from other works; 2) anything made up of badly matched parts. [WW #95]
I once knew an investor who bought into a small press publishing company. As president/CEO, he purportedly desired to learn the business—of which he knew nothing—from the inside out. In an effort to impress the staff and a stable of authors, he “wrote” and published a book.
It was at first thought a good sign that his interest in the company was genuine and its future secure. You feel a “but” coming on here don’t you? Yep …
But, he gathered quotes from others’ works, stuck his name on it, and gave it a title. Lack of real effort foretold the ultimate result of his faux sincerity with a cento, and the company’s dubious future.
Don’t get me wrong—please don’t start a Twitter storm about my perceived deplorable POV 😉—I applaud anyone who spends the time to cull inventive writings to share.
Time is our most important asset. Creating a cento to make a point and honor those creative, wise, and often humorous folks, who conceived them, is certainly time-consuming.
Kudos also to anyone who goes through the publishing process, traditional, independent, or self-publishing. It is not for the faint of heart.
There is no question, however, that writing a book, either fiction or nonfiction, in your words, is a long and laborious project, far removed from a cento arranged in an attractive format.
This person’s effort to impress in a company of authors, was the proverbial slap in the face at worst, and a feeble attempt, at best. He may have meant well at the outset—and again, there is a place for a collective book—but a cento did not bode well in this context.
Moral of the story: As an author—know your readers—since you obviously feel you have something important or enjoyable to share with them, do it in your words.
If you discover incredible quotes, lines, or passages that simply deserve a book assemblage, set them off with your narrative, comments, or exploration that are relevant to your reader. (Mindful of fair use and copyright laws, of course.)
Readers are waiting for your sparkling wit and charming inspiration—give it to them!
Word Challenge: CENTO. Mashups may be funny, interesting, or exciting in images and music, but in writing, originality is usually best. Enjoy the inspiration of your own muse as you fit cento into your week of imaginative writings.
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