I’m Still Shaking

I’m sitting here trying to let the relief obliterate the terror I was feeling a few minutes ago.

I thought I’d lost all the work I’d done in the last month or so.

Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad to you.  What’s a month of writing?

A lot.  In this case, anyway.  I’m working on what I hope is basically the final draft of my first YA novel and I’ve made huge changes from each draft to the next.  I won’t bore you with the details of what happened (really, I won’t.  And you know why?  Because I started to write them here on this post and realized they were truly  hopelessly dull.  My loss is your gain), but suffice it to say that the draft I looked at this morning was an old one and all the changes I’d been struggling to work out over the past few weeks were gone.  If that were true, I didn’t see how I could make my deadline. And I felt defeated.  I didn’t want to go back and start again.  I wanted to curl up in a fetal position and go to sleep for a very very long time.

I felt a familiar sensation.  Back when I was in college, I had one of the earliest home computers that existed, purchased from my father who had moved on to the next generation.  That thing–a Kaypro–anyone else remember those?–crashed constantly.  I mean constantly.  The screen would flicker and bounce and go nuts on you.   I was constantly carrying it (and it wasn’t light) to one repair store or another.  It crashed shortly before my senior thesis was due.

Somehow I managed to salvage the thesis, if not the computer.  I can’t remember how now–maybe I could print up even though I couldn’t actually read the screen?  Anyway, computers crashed then.  That’s what they did.  You knew there was risk involved using one.  But they were so effin’ COOL.  And in a weird way, that risk kept things exciting.  It was like there was an element of gambling mixed in with the writing.  You didn’t like losing your work but it was part of the deal.

We’ve come a long way since then and that deal no longer exists as far as I’m concerned.  I’m happy to say I haven’t felt that sick feeling of fearing I’d lost all my work in a long time.  But there it was this morning: terror mixed with exhaustion mixed with tears prickling at the back of my nose mixed with a pragmatic hope it might all be okay . . .

It was all made right.  This time.  With some help from my husband, I recovered the right version of the document and got Word working again.  But I’ve backed up the document in several different ways and I’m in a wary mode right now: I don’t trust my computer.

And I still feel sick to my stomach.

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7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, writing

7 responses to “I’m Still Shaking

  1. Sandra

    Boy do I know that feeling!

    Back when I was in college (or cegep here), I was studying film. We had a final project to do for my film editing class. We spent weekends filming, nights editing.

    A few days before the final project was due, we were in the editing lab adding some transitions and all that fancy shmancy stuff, the final touches really, when all of the sudden, all sound was gone. All of it. Gone. It was like watching a really bad, modern-day silent film. It was late. I lived about an hour away from school. I was hungry. I was tired. I wanted to cry. So did my partner, but being a guy, he did a better job at concealing his emotions.

    The lab technician had no idea what happened either, so there was no recovering for us. In the end, I recorded the voices for each person in the video. But I recorded it the way chinese sounds to me. The people in the lab were not amused. It was not the most pleasant sound in the world. We then added subtitles and submitted our project.

    We nearly failed. The teacher thought it was a joke. But the lab technician stood up for us, and we got a decent mark for our creativity. Phew!

  2. Claire

    What a great story, Sandra. Hysterical. I’d love to have seen you recording the sounds. One of the things I’ve noticed about reality shows like “Top Chef” or “Project Runway” is that the people who can recover after a mistake or tragedy are often the ones who do the best overall. That ability to say, “Okay, it’s a mess. NOW WHAT CAN I DO TO FIX IT?” may be one of the most important attributes when it comes to being successful. It’s something I’ve tried to convey to my kids–which is why I’m glad they weren’t home this morning when I was rubbing my eyes and whining, “What if it’s lost? I can’t start all over again. I can’t!”

  3. Katherine

    glad your recovered your writing. I actually did curl up in fetal position yesterday and slept for 2 hours.

    I am loving all the new posts and that story above by Sandra is funny.

  4. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I lost the flash drive with all of my writing on it. I thought I might shoot myself. It had every single piece of writing I’ve ever done on it! Luckily I found it a couple of hours later and then researched backup methods. One of my blog followers suggested I use Drop Box and I love it. I hope the back up methods you’ve found are working well for you!

    I saw this post on the same day! I can’t believe how much you are posting! Keep it up, friend!

  5. Julie Winn

    There’s the famous story about how Thomas Carlyle lost the entire first volume of his three-volume history of the French Revolution when his friend John Stuart Mill’s maid thought it was trash and used it for kindling. He finished writing the second and third volumes and then went back and wrote the first one from scratch again.

    At least with computers, it’s usually somewhere recoverable on the hard drive!

    I try to back up everything I really care about in at least two or three places. Learned that the hard way.

  6. Claudia

    It actually would be kind of interesting to learn what happened (so that we all might avoid having this happen).

    I once walked down the stairs at dawn and found my spouse lying next to his computer the way a dog might lie next to its dead master. I knew something BAD had happened by the empty scotch bottle and the blank look on my husband’s face. He said, “I hope you don’t need anything you have ever written the last 4 years.”

    I thought I’d be better about saving things after getting a new computer, but I still don’t bother to save anything other than clicking save and putting it in a computer file.

  7. Claire

    I do remember thinking, Claudia, that the worst part was that it was 9 am and I couldn’t have a glass of wine for another 8 hours . . .

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