Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Disaster Strikes

Yesterday morning started out like most mornings. I woke up five minutes before the 5:30am alarm. (Why do I do that anyway and not enjoy those last five minutes of sleep? Especially when I regularly go to bed near midnight.) Anyway, up and stumbling around I woke the two oldest munchkins with orders to get a move on. #2 child is an early bird and far more chipper than anyone has a right to be when it’s still dark outside. He’s been known to break into song and dance, which is not received kindly by #1 child who can only speak in grunts until he’s had his cup of hot cocoa.

After I got them off to their early morning classes, there was a half hour before the next munchkin needed to hit the showers. The day was starting to hum along in its regular schedule and so I headed for the computer to get a little writing done. Ha, just kidding. I’m much more like child #1 except that my morning fix isn’t cocoa, it’s checking  blogs, mail, celebrity gossip and just about anything other than writing.

My computer is really a little netbook. A very beloved little netbook just a smidge bigger than a hardback book. It’s been with me for nearly my entire writing career (okay, which hasn’t even been two years, but, hey…), and yeah, it’s getting a little old. The battery died and I haven’t replaced it so I have to use a cord. And the cord has a short in it so I have to duct tape it in the magic position so it runs. Because of all the hardwiring, my netbook isn’t as portable as it used to be. No longer can I snuggle up in bed with it and binge-watch Netflix, or lounge in the car while waiting for the kids. Now it just sits plugged in at my Ikea desk. But it’s still my baby.

Although I’m not prepared to let my netbook move on to a better place yet, I do try to be realistic about its future chances of survival. I’ve taken to keeping my novel saved on a jump drive plugged in pretty much permanently to the side of the netbook. Yesterday morning that jump drive blinked reproachfully at me as I booted up, reminding me that I really needed to be writing about Pearl and Dyln and not reading the latest about Heidi and Seal. Finally I decided that what I really needed was a cup of hot cocoa.

Sometime when disaster strikes everything decelerates into slow motion. You can see every detail of what’s happening, and it seems that if your muscles could only move fast enough you could avert impending doom – except that you never can. Well, when I scooted out my chair it wasn’t like that at all. It was fast, and over in the blink of an eye. Unbeknownst to me my netbook’s power cord was wrapped around the chair leg. It took less than a second for the whole thing to fly off the table and land on the jump drive side with the sickening crunch of bent metal and busted plastic.

That drive was utterly mangled, destroyed, finished. Was I numb? Was there weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth? Did I see my novel flash before my eyes and know that over a year’s worth of work was wasted?

Well, actually, no. I am usually so bad at remembering to save things. But I swear, angels must have been whispering in my ears last week. For no discernible reason at all to me, I decided to back up everything I had on Dropbox. And just to be on the safe side I emailed myself a copy of my novel.  (It was a good thing, too, because I’d done something wrong and Dropbox only had a copy of my novel from November.) I can’t even imagine what my mental state would be right now if I hadn’t taken the few seconds to do that.

So, if you’ve read this cautionary tale this far, here’s a bit of wisdom – BACK UP YOUR STUFF.

Oh, and after all that, even though the jump drive is toast, my dear little netbook is still kicking. I’m writing this post on it at this very moment.

What’s the best way you’ve found to keep your writing safe?

~ Susan


  1. I have a netbook with the exact same issues, battery no longer works, tapped up cord. :)

    I'm so glad you had your stuff backed up. That could have been a heartbreaking disaster. Right now I use flash drives and other computers to back up my stuff, but I think I need something on the interenet. Dropbox looks pretty cool.

    Love how your netbook just keeps on going. Awesome! :)

  2. I'm fortunate enough to have several domains in which to upload my backups. They are off site, and I can retrieve from anywhere. It's basically dropbox, but I pay for it.

    Years and years ago I lost the beginning of a novel. I was so bummed I didn't write again for years. Seriously, every time I thought about writing I'd remember what I lost then go play video games instead.

    I never said I was smart during my 20's...

  3. I email it to myself, usually pretty regularly. I've recently started emailing it to my kindle, and it's really fun to read the story on a new screen, makes it easier to spot the errors.

    I'm glad you didn't lose your novel.

  4. I emailed my WIPs to myself on a pretty regular basis. My laptop is ancient so I've got to keep my files backed up. BTW, I had the exact same cord issue with my laptop a couple of weeks ago. My laptop fell from the kitchen table to the floor. Thankfully, other than a banged up DVD drive door, everything's good. Phew!

  5. Did I ever make a backup copy of my last novel? Oh my. I used to be so careful. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Glad to hear your novel wasn't lost! I have several backup drives just for this eventuality - and after reading this post, I emailed myself a copy of the most recent version of Volcano story.

  7. I don't back up to Dropbox nearly often enough... thanks for the reminder.

    I am a paper person, and I print stuff a lot. It's wasteful and it leads me to have giant piles of paper that I can't keep straight, but up until last week I could have pieced together my novel from the 1000 or so pages scattered around the garage office. I finally decided I was drowning in paper and recycled the whole batch. I only have the first half of the most recent version right now.

    I could back up ten different places and it still wouldn't feel secure until I held a printed copy in my hand.

    I REALLY need a double-sided printer.


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