I am working on two different yet similar writing projects currently. They present me with a dilemma.
Each of these pieces require me to tell my life story. They will be for different audiences, and therefore will have different emphases, but nonetheless there will be quite a bit of overlap. One of them is a chapter in a book on parenting and disabilities, the other is essentially a spec piece for some professionals I know.
The question then becomes… how do I keep from plagiarizing myself? The lawsuit against John Fogerty notwithstanding, is it even possible for me to plagiarize myself?
There is a strong temptation to cut and paste from various sources that I have written (including blog posts), stitch them together and leave it at that. I find that process to be intellectually troublesome, even though it would certainly be easiest from a logistical standpoint.
Yet, to rewrite everything would be to reinvent the wheel.
The compromise that I seemed to have reached with myself is convoluted, and possibly not worth the trouble: I will cut and paste all the relevant parts that I have already written from whatever source, reorder them so they make sense (the pieces fall in different order in each of the projects) and write bridges to fill in the gaps. Then I will strip away all of the verbiage for the nonoriginal parts, leaving behind the bare bones of what happened.
Then I will let it sit. Not too long, as one of the pieces has a four week turnaround time, and that includes having it sent in for editing, but certainly at least a week.
Then I will rewrite.
Hopefully, I will get two pieces which tell the same story with the same truths, but in different ways.
Besides which, I am bad about rewriting anyway, and this will require discipline on my part, which is always a good thing.