Monday, September 14, 2009

Five Things I've Learned since Killing My Hard Drive


At this point there has been no progress with my hard drive. But I'm not the type of person to dwell on a problem. You just have to make the best of things and move forward, right?

I've installed a new hard drive in my computer, because strangely enough, the laptop runs perfectly fine; only the drive was damaged. I spent Sunday and today reloading software and trying to finish up a design project for a client. I grabbed a jump drive to copy some files from my husband's computer and had a lovely surprise: a copy of my novel, Secret of Undine, from early August.

I almost cried.

Even though I was trying to move on, the horror of losing my book was eating away at me in the background. I'd made changes since August, but I thought the most recent version I had saved was much older. It totally made my day to find that file!

So what have I learned about writing?
  1. Bad things happen to good people. You've heard it before but sometimes it's hard to remember. Much as you love these characters you've created, you can't protect them. They have to suffer pain, sometimes a lot of pain. Especially because sometimes...
  2. A desperate situation can open up a new direction. Not only do you discover what your character is made of, you get to try out new possibilities that you may never have considered otherwise. Which leads me to...
  3. Consider more than one option. And don't just consider it. Follow through with it. Write a few scenes or a chapter to see where it leads. You may not use it, or it might provide the hook that was missing. Since I thought I'd lost everything, I started jotting down notes for a new book. And that's not a bad thing :)
  4. Look for the silver lining. Every story has one whether it's fiction or your life. Even if you're not writing a completely happy ending, hope is the stuff that dreams are made of. All you need is a glimmer.
  5. Get it down and back it up. I now have a 500 GB external drive to back up everything. And even though there isn't much on my laptop right now, it's backed up. Call me paranoid. Whatever. I'm NEVER going to torture myself this way again. Getting your story down is only part of the answer. Save it somewhere, more than one somewhere!
I guess these weren't things that I learned. More like things that I needed to be reminded of. Hopefully my folly will save you some heartache down the road. If your files aren't backed up, DO IT NOW! Stop reading right now and go back up everything on your hard drive. Believe me, you'll be happy you did.

And one last word of advice: if you're going to drop your laptop, do it when the computer is off. Apparently I wouldn't have damaged the hard drive as much if it was sleeping or off. If only I'd known...


Susan R. Mills said...

Thanks for the reminder. It has been quite a while since I backed up. I'm doing it now.

Kelly H-Y said...

Oh my ... I'm SO sorry this happened to you ... what a nightmare. So glad to hear you found a copy of your novel. Great words of wisdom about backing up information ... see ... you didn't lose any wisdom at all with the extraction of the wisdom teeth! :-)

Beth Kephart said...

oh my goodness, I just read this news about your laptop. Sherrie!!!!!!!!! Once, while very sick, a very similar thing happened to me and I did not behave as you did. I was not as nearly calm and smart and relearning as you were. I feel awful for you and I am so glad that you somehow found the silver lining in this.

Here's something I do from time to time. I email the document in question to a friend or my husband. Neither reads it, they just have it, should something happen. I also have an external back up now as well. Still, we can never be too safe.

And on another topic altogether. Absolutely. Come to class!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

been there, girl! I dropped my laptop too. ruined the motherboard. Luckily the laptop was under warranty, but the factory wiped my hard drive.

I had just--like the day before--emailed a copy of my ms to a friend to read over. So the only changes I lost were the ones I made that day. I was so grateful! If I hadn't emailed that over I would've lost all the changes for the past six months...yikes!

I also lost all my Quicken software with my expenses and business information. Bummer. I still haven't downloaded it and started over.

Kelly Polark said...

Way to look at things in a positive way, Sherrie! And I backed up my stuff yesterday! (okay, my husband did it for me...but it's done!)

Rebecca Gomez said...

I had a similar experience back in the days of the floppy disc. I've been a big backer-upper ever since!

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, I'm so happy you recovered most of it.

Great advice.

PJ Hoover said...

I'm so glad you found a copy of it! This makes my day.
Invest to $50 a year in Carbonite offsite backup. It backs up everything you'll ever need and makes moving from one computer to another a breeze.

Sarah Laurenson said...

OMG. You poor thing. First the wisdom teeth and now this? Wow. My sympathies. If we come up your way this weekend, I'll give you a hug. (Depends on how much I've recovered from my extreme lack of sleep at the WWR)

My external hard drive has an automatic sync function. When I edit, add, delete files, it automatically does the same. Then I periodically back everything up.

On top of that, I e-mail my latest and greatest to myself and save it on my computer at work.

My paranoia stems from the one day it rained in southern california and the windows were open. Computers don't take kindly to being filled with water.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Susan: I'm glad you're backing up your hard drive!

Kelly H-Y: I think I must have lost some wisdom or I wouldn't have dropped the laptop in the first place!

Beth: I'm going to be the backup queen from now on! And I'd love to hop a plane to sit in your class :)

Tamara: Yikes! I don't even want to think about the Quicken nightmare. I'm still crossing my fingers that the company up north can recover everything...

Kelly: What a good hubby :)

Rebecca: I had a lot more backups when I could save to floppies. With more room to save on the hard drive, there's so much more to lose.

Corey: Thanks - I hope you're following the backup advice!

PJ: I've never heard of an offsite backup like that. Worth checking out.

Sarah: Yeah, water on the computer is not good! I'd love to see you guys, but you know it's Danish Days this weekend...

lisa and laura said...

How do you back up your Mac? Do you use the Time Machine? Is that what it's even for?

I don't worry so much about my writing. We send stuff back and forth so much via e-mail that we have about a million versions of everything saved all over, I'm more worried about the family photos and etc.

PJ Hoover said...

Sherrie, it is so worth checking out. It really puts my mind at ease.

Tess said...

Hooray for finding your novel! A silver lining, for sure.

And, I highly recommend They give you 2GB FREE (yes FREE) back ups and they automatically back up your work 2 x a day. I splurged and got their unlimited to cover my e mail and blog and all. It was a whopping $5/month. Not bad for peace of mind!

The pale observer said...

Back ups can't be stressed enough!!

Our house (hubby, self, teenage son) all work on Apples and we recently bought a Time machine - which is basically a wi-fi box with an automatic back up - it backs our computers up all the time without any conscious effort on our parts!

You gotta love the things that take no effort!

Glad you found your book.

I almost cried today when Firefox froze and I lost a single post!! I can't imagine losing a book... you are a positive lady!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so glad you found your work!! I can't even imagine the loss you experienced...UGH!

Matt said...

So glad you found that draft! Thanks for the words of caution, too!

Hardygirl said...

So sorry--and it seems like such a common story these days.

I have started emailing a copy of my most recent draft to my gmail account every so often (in addition to my regular back ups).

Yikes. I'm going to do it right now!!


Sherrie Petersen said...

LiLa: I bought 500GB hard drive from Costco for about $70 and I use Time Machine to do the backups. It's super easy. Why was I not doing this?

PJ & Tess: I will check out Carbonite and Thanks for the info!

Holli: Time Machine is awesome. Gotta love the ease of Macs :)

Meredith: I'm still crying about the photos, but there's still hope!

Matt: If I hadn't found that draft I'd be looking like your green man icon or worse! I hope you're listening to these words of caution!

SF: I did not realize that everything sent and received through gmail was saved there since it always forwards to my Verizon account. Thank you, thank you!! Yay!

Vivian Mahoney said...

Oh, this made me so sick reading this...I am so sorry. You are brave, looking at the positive and good karma will follow you. I will also second the Carbonite. It does give peace of mind. I e-mail to myself and I back up with Time Machine and then we also have Carbonite.

BTW, there are a few well-known authors who actually throw away their manuscript after they finish it and start over from the beginning. They say it gave them a chance to figure out what works and doesn't work in their story and starting fresh helps them focus on the good stuff.

This experience will only make your novel better. Hugs.

Susan Taylor Brown said...

Oh dear. I just read this and just recently killed my laptop keyboard by giving it a Coke bath. Sigh. You have a wonderful attitude. I can't bounce back that fast.

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