Losing your Manuscript! Urggg

This post written by: Arkat Tahir

I remember the first time I lost all my stories. I was devastated. I had lost everything that I’d held dear for the last 6 months. You see I was just getting into the grove of being a science fiction writer. A nascent one  of course but I still felt I had the right to call myself a writer, okay a newbie writer. I’d put on the episodes of Voyager that I’d TiVod and let it play in the back ground as inspiration. I was just writing how 7’s cool eyes were boring right into me asking me if I ever mated with commander Chakotay when pouf without warning the words.”System unrecoverable, System unrecoverable” filled my screen. I’d lost it all!

All my wonderful stories about Commander Chakotay gone. Did I mention I was deep into Star Trek then? It was my reason d’etre. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life but I knew I loved immersing myself in the Star Trek universe. I felt I was really there on the ship with the crew and I didn’t’ want to let them go when the show ended so that’s how I started writing about Commander Chakotay. That gorgeous, deep, principled rebel of a man. But I digress; the topic for this piece is losing all your hard work to that friend and foe, the computer. Which reminds me of lesson number one, always save your work. So excuse me while I press save…….

Okay I’m back. When it happened I didn’t know what to do with myself. All my images that I’d downloaded from the internet of Star-fleet insignia, ships, and weapons, all were gone. All my adventures with Chakotay, Janeway and the crew gone! My whole computer had died and taken me with it.

I lovingly trudged that thing to a PC store hoping they’d be able to resuscitate it but something about my FAT32 (I don’t understand computer speak but I did understand when he said I’m sorry but we can’t recover anything). I was crushed. Sadly that led to a slight depression and I stopped writing anything for a while, then quite by accident some time later I read about Hemingway and how he too had lost his manuscripts when his wife left the suitcase on the train. (Lucky for her she was with Hemingway cause I would have definitely killed her, losing MY WORK).

I also read that T.E. Lawrence left his first draft of Seven Pillars of Wisdom in a train station. He is reputed to have said “I’ve lost the damned thing!” Can you image the horror of it happening. I figured if these greats got right back into the writers seat then I shouldn’t give up either.

Now I had a new attitude. I’d never let this happen to me again and I came up with a system that works for me.The following advice works well baring no EMP surges happening to the universe.

  • Always save intermittently. Whenever you pause to think or go to the bathroom, press SAVE.
  • Always make a backup copy (I do it every night if I’ve been writing a lot but usually only once a week) and save it to a dedicated memory stick or CD Rom.
  • Print out a hard copy of your work. If you are the type who writers in long hand first, then good for you since you already have a hard copy. Still though make copies of them too. Use a scanner to save your hard copy on the computer and on a memory stick or CD ROM.
  • If you own Norton or something similar, some of their packages offer online backup of your files. Use it (but try not to lose your password. I’m speaking from experience because then you’ll have to go through the trouble of contacting them (which I’m sure is a lovely experience, it’s just another added step. I have to confess I haven’t contacted Norton about forgetting my password yet. I guess I’m confident in my memory stick saving and printing out methods for now).
  • If you own Norton (or something similar) remember to let the program run and not keep putting off the backup. You’re paying for it, best to make use of it.

So far this is what I do to save my stuff, if you have some other suggestions please leave a comment so everyone can benefit. HAPPY SAVING!!! I’ve got to get back to Chakotay, we are now in the secure digital expanse having new adventures.

From another favorite: “May the force be with you, always!”

To read more about lost manuscripts go to: http://lostmanuscripts.com/