Taking credit for someone else’s work

Driving with my friends Caleb Zimmerman and kevin mcpherson eckhoff once, going to a birthday party for a friend held out in the middle of nowhere. This while living in Calgary — our buddy had moved to the edge of the city, this nowhere-land suburb, past the end of the train line, and while going there I complained about this tendency of people to move somewhere that was difficult to reach, and then plan events near them rather than near where EVERYONE ELSE lives.

“It's like they move to the middle of a lava pit, and then complain that nobody comes to visit them. Yeah, sorry, you know, I'd come visit you more if you didn't live in the middle of a lava pit.”

Next thing I know, Caleb is graduated and submits to me (I was editing Dandelion magazine at the time) a short story called “The Lava Pit.” Of course, I published it. It was also picked up and republished by Geist, and you can read this excellent story — which I take full credit for, despite doing none of the work — by clicking the link.

This is how stories get written, kids! Hang around authors and steal their good ideas, which they aren't smart enough to recognize are actually good ideas. It also helps if you are a better short story writer than the person who came up with the idea.

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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