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Disposable Words

August 29, 2013

Every child my age made an ashtray like this. In some cases, it’s more rare and valuable than our words. Makes you wonder.

I did the math once about the number of words I write each year on this blog. Without getting into the algorithm, the numbers around 120,000 words a year.

I thought about that as I looked at a bowl at my parents’ house that I think was made by someone too young to vote–a grandchild. And I thought about artisans and other artists and what they produce and the value of what they produce.

And then I thought about writers and about writers who blog.

It would be pretentious to equate what’s produced on this blog with actual artwork. It’s not the design of this blog to be art. It’s supposed to provide information and something for you to think about as a writer. It’s not meant to be something to treasure and hang onto for generations to come.

In a related note, there’s a lot of talk about how the inundation of digital content is driving down the monetary value of what we produce. But if you look at the economics of the situation, what we produce is more plentiful than it ever has been. And I don’t mean just self-published books. There are blogs and an infinite number of websites for fun and information.

When I was a kid, the only way to find out how the Mets did and check details was to wait for each day’s Schenectady Gazette. Because it was the only place to get information, it was worthwhile for me to pay for the paper. I kept up the tradition for years, moving past the Gazette to the USA Today, the Albany Times-Union, the Washington Post and Washington Times, the Arizona Republic, and the Chicago Tribune. Only after we moved to Florida did I decide that the paper wasn’t worth the money for me because there were an infinite number of places to go for box scores and other news.

And so here we are, us writers, blithely producing content to build our online presence. The amount of free content is nearly endless. And we complain about how the value of our work seems to be falling–with good reason.

But maybe it’s falling because at least some of it is built for now. By tomorrow at this time, another post will appear in this spot. This will become just a single pebble under the stream. In two or three days, no one will remember it.

It’s too bad that way. Leads you to wonder if more is necessarily better.

  1. August 29, 2013 11:49 am

    Oh you sound so sad 😦 But I hear truth in this. Could I re-post this on my blog with you as a guest blogger? Can I do that if this is the official FWA blog?

    • Chris Hamilton permalink
      August 30, 2013 12:10 pm

      Lisa, please feel free, attributing it to both me and to the FWA. (And if you want to throw in a word about how great the conference is, I wouldn’t object to that, either.)

  2. Elizabeth Ressler permalink
    August 30, 2013 10:38 am

    Every day I look forward to dining on your delicious food for thought…THANKS! ER

  3. Elizabeth Ressler permalink
    August 30, 2013 10:49 am

    P.S. Your blog is so good for me to read. II would be happy to compensate with a paid subscription in addition to my FWA annual dues. Your writing, as well as the others on this blog, are my only means of gaining timely and educational information from a non-commercial source. Again, thank you.

  4. Chris Hamilton permalink
    August 30, 2013 12:11 pm


    Thank YOU. There are an infinite number of things online to read and we appreciate that you come here and read this.


  5. Elizabeth Ressler permalink
    August 31, 2013 11:52 am

    YOU are so very welcome. I love your recipes for writing!

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