Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Losing Manuscripts

This morning my computer unexpectedly crashed. I wasn't even using it at the time, but for some reason I couldn't get it to turn back on. Considering how much time I spend on the computer (I'd spend a lot of less time online if it weren't for all those homemade Youtube videos of cute puppies and the clips of Jane Austen movies with good-looking male actors - though of COURSE I only watch those movies because I love Jane Austen's books), my first reaction was to start running around and screaming and hope that my sheer terror would frighten my laptop into working again.

I reacted the same way that the cast of Jersey Shore would react if they were forced to live in a town with no bars, or the way that cell phone addicts would react if they were told that the new version of the iPhone had just sold out before they could buy it.

I took it to a computer repair place that I'd seen on my commute, and they told me that a diagnostic would cost $59, but that the problem was probably my motherboard. If I needed a new motherboard, they said, it would cost anywhere from $200 to $500. Considering the fact that I am a broke grad student and I view a Frappuccino as my biggest splurge every week, I almost started screaming and running around again.

So I took it to Best Buy and had the Geek Squad look at it. Their prices were considerably lower, but one of the Geek Squad guys told me I should buy a new laptop, especially because my old one was more than five years old. It had been breaking down a lot lately, and I was originally planning to replace it in a few months. He said that he'd look over my old laptop and let me know what was wrong in a few days, but I also figured that it might be a better idea to buy a new computer than to spend several hundred dollars on repairs for a laptop I would just be replacing soon enough anyway. (After talking with the technicians at both places, I realized that the cost of repairing my old laptop might have ended up costing more than the cost of buying a new laptop.)

I found a decent one that was cheap. But the purchase still means I'll be eating macaroni and cheese or peanut butter sandwiches for the next few weeks. Or maybe I'll pretend to be an undergrad at the school where I teach and go to one of the meetings for student organizations that are held on campus, because they usually serve free food. Except one of my students might be there and "out" me. And then what would I say? "Er, I'm really not looking to be one of the future lawyers of America, sorry! I'm just here for the free pizza!"

But what REALLY freaked me out was the possibility of losing all my files on my old computer. I'd backed up most of them and e-mailed several files to myself, but there were dozens more files that I'd forgotten to back up. Worst of all, unless the Geek Squad guy can find a way to transfer those files, I'll have lost the final draft of the first novel I finished writing last year, as well as the most recent draft of the second novel that I've been working on this year

I have copies of the first drafts written out longhand in my journals. But it's not the SAME. The possibility of losing all that writing that I'd worked so hard on is almost worse than giving up the money for a new laptop. Even though it will take a while, I can work extra hours at my website job, save some of the money that I earn as a teacher, and earn back the money that I had to spend.

But I can't get back all the writing that I did. I can go back and try to rewrite those drafts based on the original drafts in my journal. But as I was typing out those drafts on my laptop, I came up with new ideas, passages, and pieces of dialogue that I added to my manuscripts. And I can't necessarily remember them all. Why is it I can remember exactly what I wanted to say to that mean lady who cut in front of me in line four years ago and then was nasty and deceitful enough to accuse me of cutting in front of her (I wanted to say, "If Jiminy Cricket was your conscience, you'd try to beat him up, wouldn't you") but I can't remember everything I wrote?

Sighhhh. Maybe the Geek Squad guy will be able to transfer my files to my new computer so that I won't lose all that writing. Or maybe I'll just have to start all over. (But this time, I am DEFINITELY backing everything up.)

What about you? Have you ever lost writing before? What did you do?

Side note: I usually respond to most people's comments on the same day I receive them. But I'll be out of town for a couple days this weekend, so if I don't respond right away, I promise I'll respond as soon as I get back.


  1. If this happened to me, I would cry. For a very long time. I try to back up my data on an external hard drive once or twice a month, but it still scares me that the external hard drive might fail, or that in backing it up it might reverse the order and give me earlier drafts of everything (yeah, I'm both paranoid and not computer savvy). My computer has been giving me trouble lately too, so I think it might be time to buy a new one, maybe as early as this weekend.

    For what it's worth, I like the investment of a Mac laptop. I (knock on wood) seem to have fewer problems with viruses than my friends who have PCs. The downside is, of course, that Apple products are more expensive, but you can buy them at Best Buy with their financing options and can get a student discount.

    Good luck!

    1. Hi Anna,
      I didn't know you can get a student discount at Best Buy! I already bought my new laptop, but maybe they could credit me the discount. I got a PC mainly because it was so cheap, but I've always wanted a Mac laptop. They look really nice and it would be good not to have to worry about viruses.
      I seriously did freak out when I thought I might have lost my manuscripts forever. Not to mention I have many pages of notes from my dissertation research that may be lost as well; that's many days' worth of work, so it would suck if I can't get them back.

  2. I've had the same thing happen. I now have a backup drive because, wow, that sucked. Good luck.

    1. Hi Libby,
      I wish I had eidetic memory, because then it would be so much easier to remember everything. But anyway, I'm definitely going to be backing up my files a lot more often from now on.

  3. Those Geek Squad guys are miracle workers. Good luck :)

    1. Hi Angela,
      I'm going to talk to them tomorrow; hopefully they'll be able to transfer my files. I wish I knew half as much about computers as they do.

  4. Eek! I'm always worried about losing writing. Hope you can recover all your stuff!

    1. Hi Deniz,
      Fortunately, the Geek Squad was able to recover my files. Thank goodness! I was so relieved.