I had the scare of my life this week, my friends. My writing life anyway. I almost stopped writing for good. No joke. All because technology hates me and wants to ruin my life.
Don’t look at me like that. It’s the truth >_>
No no! It WASN’T ME!! I did EVERYTHING RIGHT! I–
……………..fine…………..You be the judge then.
I’ve been working on my 2015 NaNoWriMo Novel over the last year. The first draft was hideous and barely usable as butt wipes. Yay me I’ve been inducted in the First Draft Hall of Crap! I’ve since then re-hauled it and have been agonizing over it for months, trying to sort out the scene list. I had no Act 2 until last month. Yeah, I know. I’m the Queen of Procrastination. But 2 our of 3 ain’t bad for a second draft! The important thing is that I was excited about writing and eager to continue. So, as all good little nub writers do, I backed up my files.
Not in the traditional sense. For some reason my thumb drives and memory cards aren’t recognized by my computer so I simply send myself an e-mail of my novel for printing later at the Library because I can’t afford a printer of my own. Alright, good! All is well!
Nope. Bad. Very bad. DOUBLY BAD.
My computer sometimes will shut itself off at the butt crack of dawn and give itself updates, cranky wanker that it is. Can’t wait for permission. Just goes and does it. All our Chrome tabs disappear and any writing I’ve left up is shut down. (Luckily I’m obsessive about saving my manuscript every 20 minutes and every time I get up from the computer.) This innocuous but annoying act wasn’t what made me want to table flip. It was what I discovered afterward.
I use a free writing software called AbiWord to type out my novel because I’m too cheap to invest in Microsoft Office. So far it’s been okay. It screwed me out of 2k words when I was competing in NaNoWriMo but that was an easy fix and a lesson learned. What wasn’t was the corrupted file that contained my ENTIRE SECOND DRAFT.
CORRUPTED FILE. CANNOT OPEN. INVALID DOCUMENT.
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FU#*???!!!!!!!!!!
I stared at the screen of my computer and felt the blood in my veins turn to ice. Like an idiot in shock (and we’ve all done this), I clicked on the file ten more times, hoping to get a different result, a different message. INVALID. INVALID. INVALID. I could almost hear the damn computer’s evil malicious laugh. It ATE my BOOK.
I was ready to table flip. I was poised for it. Every other document I wrote was FINE and opened perfectly, unscathed. It was only the ONE that I left up after the computer rebooted. OMFG. OH MY GOD are you SERIOUS?! Is this some kind of cosmic JOKE? Am I being PUNISHED for something!??
To appreciate the pain of this a little more I have to tell you that I’ve lost everything I’ve ever typed on a computer….TWICE. All my short stories, my novels, my ideas..EVERYTHING. (This was before I discovered wonderful things called re-writable disks and programs called Ubuntu and Google Docs.) Of course I could have paid a small fortune and had the nerds at Fry’s Electronics dissect the hard drive and extract the files. I still might. I have both computers in my laundry room atm gathering dust and housing spider colonies. The point is though that I’ve had to start from scratch on every single typed story I’ve ever written at least once. Silver Sun has been re-written more than a dozen times for sure. (Almost one draft for every year I’ve been writing it.)
Everyone has experienced this frustration. Whether you’re a student that lost an essay or a corporate CEO that misplaced the 4th Quarter accounting report, it’s happened to you. So you feel me right? Third time is enough. Thrice burned by technology and the disgust is so strong it burned like acid.
I fumbled my password a couple times in my haste for salvation and scrolled passed all the blog updates and e-mail offers for cheap shoes and “save the cats!” merchandise. I strained my eyes, scanning the subject lines for the two words I desperately needed to see: MY OWN NAME. At the very bottom, (naturally) it was there, my possible redemption. The computer might live another day! Oh praise hallelujah! I double clicked and held my breath as I downloaded the document.
I felt like a swimmer taking their last deep cleansing breath before they hear the bell to begin their Olympic finalist race. Go for gold! Alright, let’s open this beast up! Please please please OMG PLEASE OPEN!
Now I was near tears. Tears and rage. I grabbed my phone and through blurred eyes I typed an S.O.S to my bestie Owen, who’s been my hand-holder and brain-storm buddy through this entire book. As a last resort I told him to hack into my e-mail and try to download it onto HIS computer. But I had no hope at this point. I was done. I felt all the fight drain out of me in a cold, dingy grey trickle, leaving me empty as a pint of Cherry Picking Chocolate Ice Cream after a traumatic break up.
“I’m at Costco with mom D:”
OMG can I die now? Can the earth swallow me up? Can Mr. Lew, my religious studies teacher be right and can Jehovah strike me down with a lightning bolt?
I was ready to hang it all. MONTHS of agonizing over characters and unconventional plot devices and creating my realistic emotional arcs…….GONE. Yes I had drafts of the first stages of development still but it didn’t have the all important Act 2. UGHHHHHHHHHHHH…………………..
Well this was rock bottom friends. No, I’m not being dramatic. I was absolutely done trying to make this work. It was a make it or break it moment and I was very nearly breaking into a million disappointed pieces. Or maybe a little dramatic….
But with every situation I try to see the silver lining. It’s my damned stubborn idealist attitude. She’s my internal Pinkie Pie and dammit I wanted to hurt her at that moment for distracting me from my melancholy. What GOOD thing can come out of this? How can we turn this around? In my hurry to open other Abiword documents to determined their state of validity, I left a few tabs open so I moved to close them. And then paused, the sun peaking through the storm clouds.
What’s this? When the hell did I write THIS?
I sat for half an hour, re-reading short stories I had written, completely absorbed and fascinated. MY BRAIN wrote that? It was…….it was GREAT! I was stunned. I couldn’t have written THAT. No way…..
Oh I so did that. I did that!
–A short story about a woman who wakes up Post Armageddon to find Angels were roaming the earth and she’s PISSED.
–A story idea about a Dating SIM that can get revenge on you if you break up with it–even kill you.
–A story about a half-wolf girl who opens a School and trains shape-shifters how to claim their ancestral ability to change from human to animal.
MY MIND created those and as I read through the scenes it felt like I was experiencing this all brand new. I felt like I was beta reading someone else’s book and I….ENJOYED it. I LIKED my own writing. It was well-paced and descriptive with just the right amount of dialogue thrown in.
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FU#%??!
Was this some sort of elaborate plan to give me a confidence boost?! If it was, I would have preferred a kind word from a random stranger or something. Not freaking taking my whole BOOK away from me and making me cry >_>
Okay I’m being a tad dramatic. I tend to get that way when I’m emotional and I just went from rage to melancholy to surprised delight in an hour. I was much calmer when Owen finally came home and delivered the news that the document was indeed corrupted on his end.
My shoulders–and my soul–slumped in defeat.
“But I opened it in Word Pad. There’s 50 pages of code but your book is still there. Let me clean it for you…”
My ears perked and I gave the phone screen a hopeful puppy-dog eyed stare. I think my tail even wagged. I called him on Skype later and screamed at him that I loved him and he was the best and I would die a painfully slow and agonizing death without him as my best friend. To which he replied “I know.”(LOVE YOU OWEN!!!)
Between the two of us, we managed to salvage my book. Yes, all of it. I needed to take three Advil and have a swig of Fireball while doing it but we did it. So now he has a copy, we have a copy on Skype, in my e-mail, in HIS e-mail and on both our computers. HELL no will this ever happen to me again! And once I figure out those file-sharing thingies, I’ll back it up on there too!
I was jelly by the time it was all done. My dream was nearly snuffed out. I mean, YES I could continue writing. Maybe finished that 17-year-old WIP or start fresh with one of my two dozen ideas waiting for approval. But you really don’t get it.
The whole reason I was freaking out and so dramatic about this whole thing was because for the first time EVER in my life, I had made the commitment to start something and see it through. (Well, besides my marriage but that I almost quit that several times as well. Baka hubby was just too stubborn to give up on me.) I give up pretty easily when things get hard. It’s a character flaw. But when I pounded out my NaNoWriMo last year, I promised myself it was going to work this time. No matter how hard it got, I wasn’t going to quit. Owen hounded me like a mad man, setting goals for me and picking at me until I sat my butt down and wrote. (LOVE YOU OWEN!) The complete and total destruction of my novel would have been the feather that broke the camel’s back. There was no way I would be able to re-write that. All I would see is another possibility for failure.
It was lucky then that at the very end, I got TWO silver linings and two very hard-learned lessons.
- Owen is the MAN and I owe him free Pizza for a year.
- Sometimes you have to give yourself credit for being awesome as well.
- ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR WORK TO MULTIPLE SOURCES
- And…..some things are worth fighting for.
I’m going to be a published author one day. There’s no alternative. Some days I might want to table flip and walk away. But because of this, I know now that yes, I’ll walk away sometimes….but it’ll only be long enough to line up shots of Cinnamon Whiskey and get right back into it.
Don’t give up friends. Accept technology is an evil bastard and keep marching on. You CAN do this. I’ll help! ^^