A pile of books
Unsplash | Fang-Wei Lin

Author's Essay Explaining Plagiarism In Novel Also Pulled For Plagiarism

Dan
May 25, 2022

A plagiarism controversy erupted into an even bigger controversy — with extra plagiarism! — after an author explained her plagiarism using, you guessed it, plagiarism.

Originality and creativity are hard, to be sure, but that's also what makes them rewarding. Nevertheless, shortcuts are tempting, and apparently for on author, the temptation was too much to resist — more than once. After it was discovered that Jumi Bello's debut novel lifted sections from an existing work, she explained herself in a questionable way.

Jumi Bello's novel 'The Leaving' contained plagiarized content.

Author Jumi Bello
twitter | @jumibello

The book was set for publication, but was pulled before its scheduled July release. The book's publisher, Riverhead Books, opted to cancel the release after finding that portions of the book were taken from other sources.

Bello explained her plagiarism.

Hands typing on a keyboard
Unsplash | Glenn Carstens-Peters

Bello wrote an essay, "I Plagiarized Part of My Debut Novel. Here's Why," to discuss what happened. The essay was published on lithub.com, but was quickly pulled after it was found that the essay on plagiarism contained even more plagiarism.

What was in the essay?

Person writing with a pen
Unsplash | Green Chameleon

To her credit, Bello acknowledges her plagiarism.

"I tell myself I'm just borrowing and changing the language," she wrote. "I tell myself I will rewrite these parts later during the editorial phase. I will make this story mine again."

Bello detailed the state of her mental health.

'Mental health' sign
Unsplash | Total Shape

"I just want to get through it, to a place where I can sleep again," she wrote. "Looking back on this moment, I ignored my instincts. I ignored the voice inside that said quietly, this is wrong wrong wrong."

The essay on plagiarism plagiarized passages about the history of plagiarism.

Hand holding a lightbulb
Unsplash | Diego PH

After commenters noticed similarities between Bello's essay — which delved into the history of plagiarism — and other previously published works, Lit Hub pulled the piece and offered an explanation.

Here's what Lit Hub had to say.

Crumpled up paper
Unsplash | Michael Dziedzic

"Earlier this morning Lit Hub published a very personal essay by Jumi Bello about her experience writing a debut novel, her struggles with severe mental illness, the self-imposed pressures a young writer can feel to publish, and her own acts of plagiarism," wrote Lit Hub editor Jonny Diamond.

"Because of inconsistencies in the story and, crucially, a further incident of plagiarism in the published piece, we decided to pull the essay."

It seems like plagiarism is a hard vice to shake.

Person working on two laptops
Unsplash | freestocks

Bello certainly seems sincere in her writing, and her non-plagiarized passages show promise. But for whatever reason, it seems like she can't stop herself from lifting passages from other pieces and passing it off as her own work.

What do you think?

A pile of books
Unsplash | Fang-Wei Lin

Writers know how difficult it can be to put words to page (or screen) at times. It can also be difficult to absorb new ideas and incorporate them into your own work without ripping off the source material.

It appears that Bello was perhaps over-stressed and overworked, and did one of the worst things an author can do: plagiarize material. When she tried to explain it, there was more plagiarism.

Let us know what you think of this story in the comments.

h/t: ABC News