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Cheating story is a character study

Grappling with guilt of helping girlfriend cheat

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

miami: My girlfriend is a senior in college and I am just starting an MFA program with a concentration in fiction. We both love to write, but our styles are different and hers needs a bit more polish. She is enrolled in a writing workshop, but recently procrastinated on a deadline and begged to submit one of my works in progress as her own.

I panicked and agreed, because the time constraint didn't leave me much time to think it over and because a missed workshop would have resulted in her failing the class. It wasn't a story I've submitted anywhere, so there's no danger of academic trouble on my end, but in the months since then, I have begun to feel a horrible, sick feeling about what we did.

The best way I can explain it is, my stories are like my babies, and I feel like I just involved one of my babies in a criminal act. I love my girlfriend and I didn't/don't want to let her down (so I think coming clean to her dean is out), but I can't reconcile the guilt I feel at having let her pass my work off as her own. What can I do? Nothing?

carolyn: I'd advise strongly against doing nothing, actually. Please take a hard look at your girlfriend. Who is she? Who asks of someone what she asked of you?

You are responsible for your actions, of course, and this very bad decision is yours to claim as your own. However, she didn't just make her own dubious academic decision; she recruited someone else to help her cheat.

And, take special note: You're the one agonizing over it now. As you should — you made an awful decision — but where is her character? Where is her conscience?

Her behavior strikes me as not only irresponsible and dishonest, but selfish as well. She compromised you without flinching.

At least look at this hard enough to figure out, without creating a whole new fiction to rationalize hers, whether this was outrageously out-of-character for her. You're worried about a story; I'd worry about trusting her with your ideas, your reputation, even your children and your finances, if you choose that path together. Don't rest your future on someone corrupt.

Man is at the center of his own universe

Idiotville, Ohio: Right now, as I sit here, the neighbor down the street is using his very noisy leaf-blower to blow all the leaves and garbage from his yard and sidewalk onto his neighbors' yards and sidewalks. Then he considers his job done. He's been known to blow it all down to my yard.

This reminds me of when my parents' next-door neighbors used to scoop all their large dog's poops and pile them next to my parents' house. Well, it's off their land, then, right?

What goes through people's minds?

carolyn: I think of it as being emotionally feral. Some people are just concerned with their own psychic survival, and aren't thinking of anyone else.

Fortunately, few people manage to suppress it for long, and easy to spot means easy to avoid.

Cheating story is a character study

08/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:39pm]
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