A writer’s personal essay explaining why she plagiarized parts of what would have been her first novel was removed from a literary website on Monday after it was discovered that the essay itself also included plagiarized material.
The writer, Jumi Bello, had reached the final stages of publishing her book when she admitted plagiarism, she wrote in the essay, which was published in Literary Hub on Monday. The essay recounts her story of her mental illness and her pressures to produce a debut book of her own, examining how she allowed herself to accept the ethical sin of copying someone else’s work.
His novel, “The Leaving,” was scheduled to be published this summer but was canceled after he revealed the plagiarism to his publisher, Riverhead Books, in December. The book was about the unexpected pregnancy of a young black woman. In her essay, Ms. Bello said that she had never been pregnant and had searched online for richer descriptions of her pregnancy.
“I tell myself I’m just borrowing and changing the language.” Millisecond. Bello, 30, wrote in the essay. “I tell myself that I will rewrite these parts later during the editorial phase. I will make this story mine again.”
Shortly after the publication of the essay, other writers and publications, including Gawker, noted similarities between Ms. Bello’s description of the origins of plagiarism and the work of others.
Literary Hub removed the essay later Monday, saying in a statement: “Due to inconsistencies in the story and, crucially, another incident of plagiarism in the published article, we decided to withdraw the essay.”
Millisecond. Bello was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
Jonathan Bailey, author of the Plagiarism Today website, wrote Monday that Ms. Bello’s essay “included a poor paraphrase without attribution of an article I wrote more than a decade ago.” He said that her writing process, which included copying other works with the stated intention of changing the writing later, was flawed and made plagiarism inevitable.
“The way to avoid plagiarism is not to ‘change the language,’ but to never have that language in your original work in the first place,” he wrote.