In writing, as in life, ride your own race

Allison Tait blog
Posted on August 5, 2010

Mr6 and I had a chat about plagiarism in the car today. I’m not sure if this rates as a Big Chat but, like all car chats, it had a certain intensity. There’s something about being one-on-one in a car, neither party able to look at the other (as occurs when one of you is driving and one is strapped firmly into a booster seat behind the driver’s seat) that allows for a focus you don’t often get with children.

He was telling me about the latest development in the book he is currently writing. And when I say writing, I mean laboriously printing in a Moleskine cahier (what can I say? Good enough for Hemingway…) and then transferring to computer and then transferring onto the USB stick (of which he is ludicriously proud).

Quite why these three steps must be undertaken for each page is a good question, but the six-year-old mind works in mysterious ways.

Anyway, he’s up to page four of what, until today, has been the 7th instalment in the Star Wars saga. A true sequel, from what I can gather, as it continues on from the end of Return of the Jedi. He’s not entirely what he will do about the villain role, given that Darth Vader was last seen on a cloud being Anakin Skywalker again, but assures me this is a minor plot point.

It all went by the wayside today, anyway, as he revealed that the next chapter in the book will be a Zac Power story.

Zac is his current love and he takes his Spy Wallet, complete with Spy Card (off the website), SpyPad (a crossword solver) and other spy paraphernalia with him wherever he goes.

“What does Zac Power have to do with Star Wars?” I asked, naively, whilst navigating a right hand turn.

“Nothing,” he said. “It’s a new book. I saw in the back of my Mega Missions book that new ones were coming out, so I thought I’d write one.”

“Are you going to have it published?”

“What’s published?”

I explained that while a writer wrote the book, and got rejected, a publisher printed it and made sure it got into bookshops so we could buy it.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll send it off and get it published.”

“Well, you’ll need to come up with your own idea then,” I said, pulling up out the front of guitar lessons, early for once.

“What do you mean? Star Wars Number 7 is my own idea.”

“Yes, but the other six Star Wars ideas were someone else’s. If you copy them, and use all their characters, that’s plagiarism, and that’s against the law. Publishers want you to have new characters in new stories. It’s called being original.”

He thought about that for a while. Then sighed. “But that’s really hard.”

Yes. Yes, it is.

A L Tait The Fire StarAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.


  1. Kylah

    Cute. So simple, but so true. Being original is hard. I’d love to know what advice you gave him after that comment!

  2. Alyson Hill

    Awww mum, it’s not plagiarism, it’s fan fiction 🙂 actually good you’ve started letting that trickle down now, we’re having to have the ‘why you can’t just cut and paste for assignments’ talk – “but mum it’s so much easier!” (Baby cheeses help me!) …on another note, thanks for the great Rewind idea, I look forward to finding out the theme every Friday! Yes, I probably need to get out more.

  3. Lani

    I hope to see Mr6 feature in your Starting Out series very soon!

  4. Lila Wolff

    Adorable! Love in car conversations they can be so intense and revealing.

  5. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    You have to love his passion, bless. No doubt he’s an author of the future 🙂

  6. Dorothy Krajewski

    Love that you can have a conversation about writing and plagiarism with your six year old. My two are way more interested in reading than writing.

  7. Jane @Hesitant Housewife

    What a character your son sounds like 🙂 I’m sure we’ll see his name on his own (original!) novel in the future!

  8. Saffron

    So cute! I love the way little minds work…

  9. Kymmie

    Oh my. How bright is your six year old? Writing books AND backing it up. I’m gobsmacked. And yes, it’s hard to have original thought. It’s like trying to write a song and thinking, there are only so many notes and when I start to go I think “Hmmm, I know that song from somewhere…” It IS hard. xx

  10. Emma M

    Lovely story. He sounds like such a clever boy he’s bound to have zillions of original ideas!

  11. Being Me

    Oh so gorgeous. So I guess no Star Wars number 48 then? (assuming he’s ditched that storyline by now)

    What a thinker, though. He’s 6?! Awesome sounding fellow.

  12. Seana Smith

    Hah! This is funny. Hope the book is finished and safely somewhere for posterity. A good friend and scholar once said to me, ‘Nothing new has been said since 1500.’ It’s all recycling and revamping, whew.

  13. Lucy

    Is he still laboriously printing, typing, then transferring? Bless.

    (Olivia has a Smiggle hardbacked notebook, into which she is copying all of my recipes. At the end of each method she adds her own final step. “Eat and Enjoy”. This, apparently, makes it her recipe….)

  14. Deer Baby

    I remember this from last time. Brilliant. Did he ever finish the story?

  15. Carly Findlay

    Cute conversation. Your kid is gonna be a great writer~

  16. Bodaciousboomer

    Your significant other sounds fine indeed. A man who writes? My hardly reads anything but sports!

  17. Emma

    What a gorgeous story. And how lovely will it be for your son to read back on this anecdote as a grown man (or alternatively, for you to embarrass him with it when he turns 21)

  18. Jennifer Sikora

    Visiting from Friendly Friday Follow. Be sure and stop by my blog and take a peek. Subcribe by email or RSS so that you don’t miss a single post!

  19. Cinda

    Mr6 sounds like the making of a writer in progress. Looking forward to his book in the future.

  20. Christine

    That is fantastic! Love when kids seem to get a real (although fleeting) glimpse of “real life.” I love the picture too, my 8 year old flipped out (in a good way) when he saw it!

  21. So Now What?

    Wow. My 8yo is still struggling with the word You. He sounds divine xx

  22. Stacia

    He’s a Writer with a Process. I love it. (Can’t wait for the sneak peek, if he agrees to let you share part of it.) =>

  23. allison tait

    @Maxabella – I confess it cracks me up every time I look at it. Was on a Lego lovers site – link is at bottom of post. It makes me think of Mr6. Something about the ‘go your own way’ness of it. Or the ‘I think I can’ maybe.

  24. Rachel

    Tell Mr6 he can write Star Wars 7… tell him I want to read it …. I love Star Wars…even in my 40’s …..

  25. Maxabella

    He’s such a special little guy. I imagine that his story is going to be amazing and will be snapped up by a publisher instantly.

    Where did you find that picture? I think it’s hysterical and I’ve printed it out and put it on my work noticeboard.

  26. PinkPatentMaryJanes

    Gorgeous – what a beautiful tale. Can’t wait to read about his adventures.

  27. Lucy

    Bless. I want to meet Mr 6, he sounds adorable in his intensity.

    And I agree totally about car convos. Totally.

    (Yesterday mine was about why grwon ups get to share beds with someone even though they are grown up and don;t ever get scared. God help me.)

  28. A-M

    Oh I have little books, that my big boy used to write, stashed away in a ‘treasure box’.. such wonderful memories… my youngest is a writer too… don’t they create the most wonderful places in their minds! Enjoy! A-M xx

  29. Kristy

    Oh, that is funny. Thank goodness he has you or he may get in some major legal trouble.

  30. Deer Baby

    Priceless!! And don’t diss those Moleskine notebooks – I can’t work without them!!

    Sonny is currently writing one of his stories. I’ve promised him I’ll put it up on my blog soon – or at least an instalment. He keeps asking.

    Kylie’s comment is hilarious!

  31. Gill@OurParklife

    when i was six I wrote about 30 pages of my “own book”. I stapled it together and took it to school for my “News”

    It was a blatant rehashing of an Enid Blyton book (i even re-named characters things like Fluffy the Pixie instead of Enid’s Silky the Elf) but i was so proud of it I did not care (or even get the whole copyright thing)…

    I am VERY impressed that Mr 6 has it saved on a computer AND a USB….My “book” didn’t even make it onto our old commodore 64

    Very much looking forward to a sneak peak at Mr 6’s book!

  32. allison tait

    @MultipleMum, the handwriting needs work, don’t you worry. Maybe that’s why he’s so keen to type it (one finger, tap, tap, tap) and save it on the USB. His handwriting is like his mum’s. That’s all I’m saying.

  33. MultipleMum

    Like mother and son (of the ABC variety)! Sitting together in your PJs penning the next great Australian novel. What a visual! I love it. I simply MUST have a read…

    Meanwhile, Nugget is still struggling to work out how to form his letters and seems unlikely anytime soon to write more than a simple sentence. It takes all types…

  34. Anj (@anjwrites)

    Awesomesauce! I can’t wait to read his work 🙂

  35. allison tait

    He’s cute. I love that he’s embarked on the project. Once he’s further in, I’ll publish a few pages on the blog (after receiving copyright permission, of course). So far there’s a spaceship that’s big and white and that’s about it, so awesome may be overstating the case. I’m glad he’s not up to rude body parts just yet though. 🙂

  36. Kylie L

    I LOVE IT!

    Oh, Mr 6. And even if you somehow manage to have a really cool idea that no-one has ever had before, and even if you somehow, after years of toil and pain and doubt and poverty acquire an agent, and if that agent- against all odds- somehow finds you a publisher (but don’t bet on it), and if that publisher wants to publish your book and doesn’t mangle (I mean edit) it out of all recognition, and if you see your words FINALLY IN PRINT and ON THE SHELF at Borders… well, even then someone will tell you it’s crap and you shouldn’t have bothered and why didn’t you put vampires in it?

    Lucky you’re strapped in that seat, huh?

  37. Annieb25

    Wow your Mr 6 sounds positively awesome. I just love that he is writing a book. My Mr 16 did something similar when he was 12. Unfortunately the innocence of a 6 year old was not quite there. Mr 12 was writing a star wars book also, except all the names were of a, ahh, rude nature and related to male and female body parts – not arms and legs. The problem was it was so well written, hilariously funny and so clever that it was almost a crime to stop him. Unfortunately he was 12 and wrote like a 20 year old. The Chaser boys would really love his story!

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