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Right or Wrong? What Say You, Writers?


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Last week, I got a few texts from friends, asking me if I was trying to message them on Facebook. Ugh, I thought, do these hacker folks have nothing better to do? 

Normally I ignore this sort of thing but I do change my password thereby keeping hackers from messing with my pictures of flowers or pithy quotes. (Though in my humble opinion, a hacker is already on the wrong side of morality and my quotes, often of a spiritual and/or philosophical nature, might be just what the nosy criminal needs.) 

Anyway, after changing my password—which requires me to either remember or find my password, neither being an easy task—I had another thought. When was the last time I checked passwords, especially on sites and such that I rarely visit anymore? 

It’s a chore that’s been on my To Do List forever, not just for cyber security reasons but also because I like to keep up with where Cathy C. Hall’s words might be. So I spent some time checking old websites where my essays or blog posts might have been; all but one of them was no longer functional, or at least out there in the same context. 

I couldn’t login anymore. Any byline was missing. I’d disappeared! It was as if I’d never written for those sites.

And then I had another thought… What to do about all those essays and/or columns I’d written, some for pay and some for free? I mean, back in early days of my career, I wrote a lot of short pieces. Some of them were my best life stories and now they’re…well, it’s as if they never existed. 

As if they never existed. 

Hmmm…So what if I put them back out there? Maybe do a little sparkly editing and send them out again into the world? 

I know writers recycle pieces all the time—I’ve done it myself—but I’ve always noted that it would be a reprint, or that a version of it had appeared elsewhere. But what I’m wondering is this: does a writer need to specify that words have been published before when the website is defunct? When there’s no way to find the writing unless the author of said words could dig up a copy in their own files? 

To be clear, I’m not talking about essays or stories published in anthologies, hard copies or ebooks. I’m curious about all those online sites that are here today and gone tomorrow, never to be seen again. Can a writer, in good conscience, submit a piece that’s run on a bygone, belly-up website and not mention a word about where it may have appeared before? 

Right or wrong, writers? (Asking for a friend.)


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