Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Day in the Life

So it’s Monday morning. After procrastinating over the holidays, this is the block of time I’ve chosen to get serious about a requested “rewrite and resubmit” story. I’ve done a lengthy reread of the entire manuscript, made copious notes on possible amendments, changed a crucial plot point, and even created an important new character. I’m ready to write.

I get caught up in an early scene. The writing is going so well I forget I should be fixing breakfast until I come to the end of a chapter. 

“There,” I say to myself. “I’m sure this is exactly what the editor had in mind with her feedback.” 

I give the page in front of me one more read and sit back in my chair, satisfied.

And the whole dang thing disappears. The screen is a solid blue.


I click the mouse; I pound the keyboard. Nothing moves. Nothing happens. After several minutes a sign comes on that says the computer cannot find the wireless mouse and keyboard (or something like that). So I hit the on/off switch, planning a restart. Up comes a gray screen, a darker gray apple, and the whirling gear.

That’s it. Try after try after try.

Oh, the rage against the machine. I say a naughty word—or two. 

I call Apple. The technician can’t do anything because the keyboard or mouse doesn’t work. “It sounds,” he tells me, “like a hard drive problem.” He very kindly makes an appointment—yes, one needs an appointment. The poor thing is going to the doctor, isn’t it?—at the Apple store. The thought flits through my mind that there’s a conspiracy against me EVER getting this stupid story in shape. Whatever possessed me to be a writer anyway. Am I nuts?

And then I remember the little black case that sits on the computer stand. Yes! My external hard drive. Oh, please, let everything be there. Please!

Fortunately, my computers are both Mac so I bring in the laptop and hook up the hard drive, the wireless modem, and the extra router, and... After a lengthy search on the hard drive, I find my story.  Are the changes there? Are they?

Yes and no. You see, the hard drive makes an automatic save every ten minutes or so. Part of my corrections were saved; some, the ones I was happiest with, were not. Naturally.

There’s only one thing to do and that—you guessed it—is yet another rewrite. And somehow, the incentive this time is just a little lacking.  

This is a teaching moment, however, for anyone who has complete confidence in her computer’s reliability. My advice? Don’t bank on it.

Before the external hard drive, I backed up my work after every writing session, or at least at the end of the day, onto a flash drive—as long as I remembered. The hard drive is a lot safer.

Therefore, my first recommendation is to hook up the extra hardware. Nothing wrong with using a flash drive, too. My second recommendation, because repairs are costly, is to purchase a long-term care policy. Mine has already saved me $30.00 over the cost, the piece of mind is wonderful--and I still have over a year to go on it. I’ve never bought such a policy before, but I’ve had problems with this Mac from the get-go.

The good news is that the nice people at the Apple store say even though my hard drive is shot, they can retrieve most, if not all of my stuff. And if those last few pages are there, and the scene changes I made were retained, I’m going to be a happy camper. I want to see how the writing from the second go round, when I had to fight for the words, compares with the first, when everything just flowed.


Terry Ambrose said...

That's a nasty little situation. I absolutely love my Mac, but do use the iCloud storage to back up the important stuff. What did we do before we had remote storage? Oh, that's right, we lost everything...ah, yes, the not-so-good old days! Hope you get the rest back, I hate it when I lose really good stuff!

EditNetwork said...

Flow can be deceptive. I'm loving a tiny book by Verlyn Klinkenborg, "Several Short Sentences about Writing." One of those dip-in-anywhere books, but taken at a full gulp, it's invigorating. I have it from the library but will soon have to have my own to mark up & highlight. Very enthusiastically recommended to you & every colleague.

William Doonan said...

Of all the horror stories a writer could devise, losing material to computer problems is the most frightening. I've been using an online backup service for about a year. I haven't needed it, but it gives me great peace of mind. $45 a year, and I never have to worry!

Sunny Frazier said...

This is a nightmare every author dreads. I have an external hard drive (those stupid flash drives never worked for me)and my work is backed up after every session. Plus, being old-school, I have hard copies of my work. Better safe than frantic.

C.K.Crigger said...

Thought I'd give an update... I didn't lose anything irreplaceable, at least not that I've found so far. I did have to download all new drivers for both of my printers, and they probably needed updated anyhow. So all seems well. I am trying to make more use of my flash drives along with the time-machine external drive, however. Terry, I'm too cheap and too ignorant to do the "in the cloud" thing.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

So far, Time Machine on my Mac has worked and my files are on a backup hard drive. It is always frightening to think that all could be lost. Beryl

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I use Mozy an off line storage that comes in 3 times a day and saves everything. When my Windows and Microsoft Word got corrupted, once I reinstalled everything, I went to Mozy and everything on my computer was restored easily.

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