Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Sympathy for Aline, plus my own Sad Story

by Rick Blechta

What Aline probably feels like…

First of all, I’d like to apologize for once again failing to post. “But I have a really good excuse for why it happened,” he said, feeling like a schoolboy again. You see, I was in New York for a family memorial and wound up spending most of the trip trapped in my mother-in-law’s basement because it had a pretty bad mold problem. We were smart enough to call in the experts — black mold being nothing to fool around with if you’re an amateur — but what was to be kept and what was to be chucked needed to be dealt with.

By the time we hit the road to return to Toronto, my wife and I were both pretty wasted. I didn’t even associate the fact that Tuesday is “Type M Day” until Wednesday morning. Not that I could have done anything much about it. Driving a car on an Interstate and writing a clever bit of blog posting (Hey, I can hope, can’t I?) tend to be mutually exclusive endeavours.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

You see, I am in the same boat that Aline is. My computer — an old one — appears to be completely moribund. It’s been in the shop since last Friday and they still don’t know what the problem is.

I’ve at least learned to be prepared for these inevitable events, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Maybe, I should say “live through” since it feels as if my life is on hold.

The preparation part comes from the fact that all my work files, projects, and “important stuff” are loaded on separate hard drives. I can remove them, which I did, and carry on with the assistance of an insertable hard drive base — but it is a huge pain.

Computers are very wonderful devices. For a writer or a musician they are a godsend, but as Aline so clearly pointed out, they come with a huge caveat. Eventually they will do something, well, horrible, and you’ll hear those dreaded words: “I’m sorry. This can’t be fixed.” Be prepared to hear this sometime if you use a computer because, sooner or later, it will happen.

In Aline’s case, she’s got a corrupt file, one chapter of a book. It also sounds like she’s got a robust back-up system. In her case, though, she just threw “craps” and when a good file goes bad, there’s little that can be done. But it still is only one chapter. I’ve known writers who have lost entire manuscripts, and that’s REALLY sad.

In my case, my old computer might have just ridden off into the sunset. The only really important thing that could be lost is all my current emails and my email archives. There is a way to retrieve this information, but it will probably be expensive. I may have to just swallow that loss. Time will tell.

Barbara enjoys writing the first drafts of her books and stories in long hand. I sometimes do this, but maybe it’s time I did it more often. First drafts are the hardest things in writing too recreate. Edits are a snap in comparison.

I’ve said it here before: Be prepared for your computer to bite you someday. The moment you begin using one, you’ve opened yourself up to that inevitability. If your work-life is on that computer, you must remain vigilant at all times or risk losing what you’ve spent so much time on. Aline got bitten, and so have I. It is always a bitter pill to swallow.

I’ll leave you with my favourite saying vis-a-vis these wonderful/infernal machines: Computers are great — as long as they’re working.

You can quote me.


Susan D said...

Yikes, Rick. It's going around. Profound fellow feelings to you.

In the shop since Friday? That's when I took mine in too (the moment it opened), and they got it back to me by closing time. I understand the feeling of being without half your brain at your fingertips, AND wondering if the patient will live.

And why is it always a long weekend?

Aline Templeton said...

Oh yes, Rick, Aline does feel exactly like that!

Rick Blechta said...

Susan and Aline,

Looks as if we're all in the same boat -- and a profoundly leaky one it is! I've always thought that computers are equipped with secret "anxiety connectors" that cause them to do the weird and wonderful things of which they are capable. If you're content, they respond helpfully, but if your anxious -- especially if that's caused by time constraints -- they'll go wonky in a heartbeat, and as your anxiety mounts, they make things worse.

It's all an evil plot!

Hope everyone gets back to regular computer activities ASAP!

chandhran m said...
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Ambre Leffler said...

I printed a copy of every iteration of my book along the way. Even with that, I noticed during revisions that an entire section of a critical chapter was missing. I finally found the original draft in Scrivener and am lucky I had that because it's the section where my characters solve the case!

The day after reading Donis Casey's post, my computer screen started blacking out. My battery no longer holds a charge, apparently. So since then, I back up everything on One Drive and on a flash drive.

Between writing the initial draft in longhand, typing the first draft into Scrivener, printing off copies of each draft, and saving everything to the cloud and a flash driver, I certainly hope I have everything covered!

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