I am relatively new to the world of ‘blogging’.
I have always loved to write but never had the confidence to actually share something with anybody, other than my husband.
I have now been blogging for just over a year; mainly thanks to my husband who spent many weeks insisting I start blogging anonymously at first to see how it ‘feels’.
I began on Tumblr ; blogging about my little family and my huge Irish family… I gained a few followers ; they showed an interest and began sharing my blogs.
I learned a lot from Tumblr ; the main lesson I took away from dear young Tumblr was that I was too old to be blogging on the site..yes 33 years old is too old for Tumblr.
From Tumblr and with the help of my computer ‘nerd’ husband we created a website…and so my blogging began, publicly.
Blogging about my life is obviously personal to me; the reason I do it; I simply love to write. It began as a therapy for me; then as the readers grew; I could see it was actually resonating with a lot more people than just me.
What if I had come across a blog like mine when Ethan was diagnosed?
Again my number one fan encouraged me to contact Irish websites to see if any of them would be interested in giving me a chance to ‘guest’ blog; even just the once!
My very first publication came from an Irish Family website; they gave me a guest blog spot which opened my audience and grew my confidence.
Soon I was getting private messages and enquiries about my ‘Facebook’ page; so ‘It’s Me Ethan‘ was born.
I have had people contact me regarding their own journey; their own little stories about similar experiences to mine; and I have even had two families newly diagnosed with Hunter Syndrome contact me. Isn’t that amazing?
Writing publicly is opening yourself up for criticism; thus far, I’ve been lucky; yes I’ve had a few comments that have left me feeling upset and wondering if I should continue, but seconds later a new wonderful supportive comment comes in and that is what keeps me going; to connect with people I will never meet using my words, is beyond rewarding.
Recently; however I had a very surreal experience.
Stumbling through websites similar to my own; I like to ‘follow’ other parents who write about their journeys too because we all need someone in our corner; someone who knows what it is like to share such experiences.
I received a link and a private message to ‘It’s Me Ethan’ facebook page.
The message was from a fellow writer and a mammy to a child who also has special needs. I clinked on the link.
In black and white were my words posted as a new blog post from another writer.
My heart dropped.
She had taken my Ethan out of my post; put her beautiful sons name in and changed a sentence. She claimed it was an adaption of my work; it wasn’t.
I wasn’t angry (at first) ; I was sad, hurt…I felt betrayed…a mother on a similar path to mine and a writer..I couldn’t believe anyone would do this but especially my kin.
I contacted her and she added the link to the original post (my post).
My feelings turned to anger when I was on Facebook and saw a friend had shared a post–yep my post but with this ladies name attached to it, her Facebook page and her website too!
I was mad.
Clicking the link; I saw it had been shared a few times, with the caption ‘My new Post’— again she mentioned she had adapted it but gave no direct link to my post.
I’m Irish; I call a spade a spade and when I’m angry; there are no filters.
I left a comment publicly on her facebook link explaining the difference between plagiarism and adaption… the link was removed from her website and her facebook page 10 minutes later.
She did email; I responded and left it and that.
The kicker? This wasn’t the first time this lady done this; the woman who messaged me to tell me about this; had indeed been through this exact same thing three months previous.
Does that make it worse? I think so.
To have any of my pieces read, shared or commented on means so much to me; I feel connected and less alone. I feel like I am giving back to those who are in my shoes; new to my shoes or have had my shoes and would wear them in a heartbeat again to see their babies.
I do it to hopefully rasie awareness about Hunter Syndrome . I do it in the hopes that those newly diagnoised families (especially) know that they are not alone.
I do it for me, yes for me, to remind me of all the great things Ethan has taught me and shown me. I do it for families who are on similiar paths, so they feel they are not alone.
When I began this journey; I felt alone, very alone. I don’t want any parent to feel that way regardless of diagnosis..they are not alone.
I know I take many risks by writing so openly and honestly; and I am willing to take the comments and messages that tell me I’m ‘x‘, ‘y‘ and ‘z‘… as long as Ethan is never targeted in these type of comments ; I’m able to take it…I do have very thick skin. Ethan has never had one of ‘those’ comments aimed at him and I don’t believe people would ever do that; well I hope not.
To have my work copied and pasted and shared as ‘your‘ own; well that is something completely different.
It was unexpected. I was unprepared. It caught me off guard.
It won’t next time.
So thank you to the woman who plagiarised my writing…you have taught me a lot.