Back It Up!!

Don't let this happen to you.

Well, readers, I have returned, if ever so temporarily, from my unintentional hiatus to tell why I have disappeared: a few weeks ago, in the middle of a heated spell of writing, my dear computer decided that its services were no longer needed in this world, and that it had better retire to computer heaven (or hell, which is where I would send it).  That is, it died.  It’s too bad, too, because I was finally starting to get some good writing done.  But, alas.  It was not to be.  And as I am as yet too broke to buy myself a new computer (in cash or credit), it appears that my updates on this here blog with be sporadic at best.  I am, at this very moment, coming to you from my father’s computer, and let me tell you, typing on his ancient keyboard is no Sunday picnic.  We all must suffer and endure for our art!

I also mean to reassure you lovely people that even though I am living without modern technology, I have not given up the craft!  I am forging ahead, like a pioneer, writing (dare I say it?) by HAND!  And I have to say, with the minor exception of aches and pains (okay, full out major, finger-crippling hand cramps), writing by hand is working out alright for me.  And why not?  I have a whole slew of empty notebooks in which to scribble, and a million and a half pens to do it with.  I have to keep reminding myself that until college, this was how I always did it, scratching away furiously, hoping the words in my head would slow down just enough for my hand to keep up.  Hell, for a time after an injury, I even hand-wrote stories with my left hand.  I can do this!  And as I always have a notebook on hand, I have no excuse to wait until I get home to write down what’s plaguing my cerebrum.

That said, it is a major pain in the ass trying to query with my various backed-up forms and letters.  Try attaching a Word document to a request from an agent when you don’t have Word!  And since they all want something just a little bit different, it’s not like I can use the same document for everyone, with a little apology/disclaimer in the body of the email.  Some want the first five pages, some want the first ten.  Some want a one-page synopsis, some want five pages.  But it could be worse.  I could be one of those ridiculous writers who didn’t back up their work or send it to anyone, and then I’d be screwed.

Seriously, I have heard too many stories like this, where something happened to the hard copy or the computer that held the only draft.  People, do not be stupid.  Back up your work and back it up often.  We’re talking, multiple formats and for every session.  Email it to yourself, use a memory stick, print it out on paper.  Ever watch Californication?  All of David Duchovny’s troubles (okay, many of them) could have been stopped in their tracks if he’d just backed up his work.

Ernest Hemingway’s first wife lost the suitcase containing the only copy of his first novel in it.  Years of work, gone.  Ernest Hemingway lived in a time without computers or internet or photocopies.  He had an excuse.  You do not.  If you save your manuscript only once, on your hard disk, and then take your computer on a plane and check it with your luggage and your manuscript then disappears with your luggage (a true story I read in the paper a few years ago), then you have no one to blame for the loss but yourself.  Do not be like this person.  Do not be a fool.

Say it with me: ALWAYS back it up!