Here we are for another entry into my blog. I try to keep most of my entries light and save any anger or frustration for my “You Know Why Wednesday” posts. But Tuesday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
As most people know, writers are very rarely working on just one project once they start to publish, especially if they are working on a series. Not to mention personal blogs, guest posts, notes for other projects, notes on your work in progress, writing exercises, poetry, grocery lists, Christmas shopping lists, you know, just everything we put to paper. Nowadays, most of our things on paper are actually on screen.
At this moment I am working on two major manuscripts after having JUST published the second book in my series on Monday. Then Tuesday came. My dad had called me in the middle of the afternoon and I was standing in my office chatting with him, my desktop computer – my main work computer – was running quietly and happily next to me. I had four internet windows open and no docs, so definitely not overloading it by any means. Then I hung up with my dad and went to check something on the computer and when I touched the mouse it froze. I stood there for a moment wondering, “What the hell?” And then the worst thing happened. The Blue Screen of Death.
Now, at this point, I did not panic; I’ve seen The Blue Screen of Death before, we all have, right? I did worry that maybe I had a virus but I would deal with it. So I shut down the computer and then went to start it back up again and once past the very first screen that tells me what kind of computer I have came up, it went black and I realized my computer was clicking. Yes, clicking. So like an idiot I shut it down and tried again and again. Then I went for my laptop and searched for a reason or a cure and found that most thought it was my power supply dying. Sucks, yes, but no hard drive damage, right? So I found a local tech who promised to come out the next afternoon to see what was wrong and if he could fix it, at the very least he would retrieve my data for me. So I stopped panicking.
Why would I be panicking, you ask? Well, my lovelies, my 90k+, unfinished manuscript of Fire is on that hard drive. And nowhere else. Yeah. You get it now. There was a copy in my email, but it was only about 80k words, so I would’ve lost over 10k words. Not as bad as losing the whole thing, but those 10k words have so much action and tension and build up in them… I could follow the path of those words, but my footsteps would never be identical again.
So the tech comes the next day. He tells me a power supply replacement is only $20-30 and would take him like 10 mins max. So I jumped for joy. But very shortly after the first attempt to fix that problem we realized it was not my power supply clicking, but rather my hard drive. At this point I realized how many times I had tried to start it up and how many times this tech had tried and all I could think of was how much damage we may have caused. So I cried. Oh yes, for the fifth or sixth time.
Then I started calling specialists with the tech sitting next to me to make sure no one steamrolled me. Finally I got a local, independent guy, Scott, who said I could bring him my computer within the hour. When I got to him he seemed confident that he could simply lift an image of my entire hard drive and put it on a new one and be done in a day or so and would only charge me for the cost of the hard drive. I was so relieved. The people I had been calling were quoting me prices that would cover the cost of my rent and that my computer would end up in Northern California and be gone for possibly 3 weeks with no guarantees.
So I went home feeling great. I would not only get my work in progress but probably everything else! YAY! Confetti! Cupcakes! Woohoo!
And then Scott called.
The hard drive was so corrupted that there was no way he could lift an image of it. In fact, he said, to get anything he would need to know exact file names and locations so he could retrieve individual files. What was worse, he told me to be prepared for the fact that he would try to get my important files, but he couldn’t promise it. I could’ve been sick. I begged him to find the final draft of Fire. I would give up everything else, just not that. I knew what I was saying, but I knew there was a copy of Water in my email that my editor has and really, I could, in time, probably replace everything else.
I did not sleep Wednesday night.
Scott called early in the morning and told me that after 7 hours he had lifted over 11 GBs of data. I know little about computers but that sounded promising! But then he told me that we were up into the few hundreds of dollars in time and work and if I wanted he could order the drivers needed to get into the rest of the data. Already, this was financially damaging so I told him no, no drivers. Then I asked, “Did you get Fire?” He said he would check and call me back.
I sat and waited for almost forty minutes on the verge of tears and vomiting.
Then he called back. He had a copy of Fire. He started to read it to me and I quickly cut him off and nearly screamed, “No, no, no! I need a word count, Scott! Word count!”
He had the full manuscript.
I cried again.
I raced to his office and sat at his computer and found that he had managed to save a large chunk of my files and a few pics and a few songs that were not also on my laptop. But there was every final copy of my manuscripts and notes and so many other things. Yes, some things were lost and corrupted. But the irreplaceable things were there.
When I worked at an office and stole writing time at lunch and coffee breaks, I emailed myself every single day the current manuscript I was working on. I probably have over 100 copies of Earth in my email in various stages of completion. But at about 80k words of Fire, I started working from home. Why email myself now? Well, this is why.
Back your shit up, people.