Computer Blues

It’s every driver’s worst nightmare — you’re driving along, maybe listening to the radio, when all of a sudden you hear a tell-tale ping! from the dashboard. You take your eyes off the road, only to see that an ominous warning light has suddenly blinked on. Your mind races. What’s wrong with the car? What did I do?! Oh my God, what’s happening?!?

Then, while that last thought is leaving your brain, the car simply decides to stop running, leaving you stranded on the side of the road with a growing sense of worry, shock and unease.

Well, the computer version of that happened to me the other day. It was after midnight, and I was just getting ready to finish my daily writing quota. An alert popped up on my laptop monitor. It was from my virus protection service, and it wasn’t the usual yellor or orange alert. This sucker was a shade of red that could only mean bad news.

Before I could fully grasp what was happening, the manuscript for my third novel vanished into thin air — Poof! — never to return.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “Todd, why on earth didn’t you back up your file?” Well, this was my backup file. It was saved on a thumb drive that allowed me to work between multiple computers. For some nefarious reason, my antivirus software deemed it a security risk and removed it from that multipurpose backup drive. Like a dingo in a Meryl Streep movie, Norton Antivirus ate my baby.

I went through all the stages of grief in about fifteen minutes. Denial (“No, dammit, this is not happening, right?”), anger (“What the hell, computer?!? That’s not a virus. That’s my blood, sweat and tears you just deleted!”), bargaining (“If you can somehow make that file appear again, I swear I’ll buy you a real laptop bag and not toss you into that leather thing I bought at Target.”), depression (Insert the sound of my tears) and, finally, acceptance.

All isn’t completely lost. I do store files in Dropbox (which is a writer’s best friend) and there was an earlier version of the manuscript just waiting for me to pull it off the bench and put it in the game. The only downside is that the file is two weeks old. Not ideal, but it’s better than having to start my entire manuscript from scratch. I can live with having to rewrite two weeks of work. Losing two months of work would have driven me mad.

So that’s my computer sob story. The valuable lesson I learned is to back up everything, every day on every computer I own. If I do that, hopefully this mess won’t happen again.

So, fellow writers, have you ever lost anything really, really big? Something that puts my story to shame? Also, what backup systems work for you? (Because I think I could really use it.) Sound off in the comments section.

Posted on by Todd Posted in Musings, On Writing

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