Rainy Days and Mondays

by wjw on December 11, 2007

Okay, so Monday sucked. It rained all day, which is good for our environment and for the ski lodges, but meant I lived all day in the gloom.

Then I got bad news— not about me, but about a friend. Which put a huge damper on the day.

And then I fired up the computer and started work and discovered that everything I’d written on Sunday— yeah, we writers work weekends— it all had just vanished. And because I was pressed for time I hadn’t backed it up! I wasted an hour trying to find a .temp file somewhere that might contain some of the writing, but failed. Ran System Mechanic, and discovered that the Windows Directory had 43 errors.

I’d like to believe that Windows is at fault rather than me. I’m having a hard time believing that I wrote for a couple hours without once backing up the file, and then when I closed out for the day, clicked the “do not save changes” button. I’m more professional than that, I’d like to think. (Though some days I’m not.)

It could have been worse. Once I lost a whole novel to a computer glitch, both the original and the two backups. But that was in the days of DOS 1.1.

Tarl Neustaedter December 12, 2007 at 8:19 am

Go MAC and turn on Time Machine. Automatically (and fairly invisibly) does hourly backups, keeping them for 24 hours, keeping daily backups for a month and weekly backups as long as your backup disk can store them.

The industry is loaded with backup kludges (I’ve worked on some of them), but Apple got this right. Each backup is incremental (so doesn’t take long), but by clever manipulation of their file system is also an entire snapshot of your main disk. They had to modify their filesystem to make it work, but this one app makes it worth the pain of switching platforms.

Siristru December 12, 2007 at 11:19 am

What programm do you use? MS Word? OpenOffice.org? I think that somewhere in their settings you can set “save every…”. So programm could save your work automatically.

Rebecca S. December 12, 2007 at 5:10 pm

Something similar to your computer screwup happened to me once. (Never did figure out why, but I replaced my laptop right afterward–I was due for an upgrade anyway.) When my own various searches failed to unearth a trace of the lost file, I called a data recovery outfit. They told me to stop writing new stuff to the computer at once (I hadn’t been) and trot it on over to them. I gave them the filename and a list of unique search terms, and they did manage to find the file. Part of it was very badly garbled, but part of it was still intelligible–enough to help me rebuild what was lost. If I had known that I wouldn’t get a whole, undamaged file back, I might’ve opted just to start over on my own. I’ve now got my wp program set to save every 5 minutes. It does it while I work and I barely notice it. But I’m sure Windows has other ways to lose up my files waiting up its capacious sleeves.

Rebecca S. December 12, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Forgot to ask: Did you ever write that lost novel a second time? I’m trying to imagine what that would be like and come up with immense frustration.

David December 12, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Inevitably, someone will tell you to switch to a Mac. Don’t listen.

(Ah. Too late. Someone already did, in the very first post.)

dubjay December 12, 2007 at 11:07 pm

The lost novel was rewritten in a few days, thanks to the daily fanfold printouts that I made as a last-ditch backup.

I don’t do hardcopy backup, and I probably ought.

The rewrite wasn’t as good as the final draft I did the first time, since by that point I wasn’t as hot. A triumphant final drift through the text is much better creatively than a frantic last-minute rewrite fueled by frustration and anger.

I use WordPerfect 2000, a word processor that even Corel doesn’t support anymore. I believe it -does- save automatically unless you tell it not to, but I’ll check the settings.

Peter D. Tillman December 17, 2007 at 4:03 pm

Walter, will there be any public events at your workshop — readings
or whatever? Where is it held?

I ask as we are moving to Taos (Valle Escondido) in May 08– assuming our house sale in S. Fe closes as scheduled by Dec.31.

Regardless, I’ll buy you a beer, or join you for a hike?

Cheers — Pete Tillman

“A book that is merely bad …is a waste of time, while a genuinely
terrible book is a sheer delight.” –Joe Queenan, NY Times

dubjay December 21, 2007 at 9:26 pm

We weren’t planning any public events at the workshop, as there really isn’t much of an SF fan base in Taos. I think I’ve met all three of them.

But I just got email from the Taos News, so maybe something will come up.

dubjay December 21, 2007 at 9:32 pm

Oh, right— and happy to accept a beer, whenever.

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