Ernest Hemingway’s first wife lost all of his work at one point in their lives – every handwritten note, every diligently typed page and carbon copy. She was taking a train to meet him and thought he might want to work on his manuscripts. Knowing how particular he was, she took every single thing he had worked with or on. Then she turned her back just long enough for someone to take the trunk that was never found. Some say this was the beginning of the end of their marriage. It was probably more complicated than that, but any writer can commiserate with his pain. It is a testament to his greatness that this didn’t send him over the edge, but he came back stronger and more determined after knocking back a few drinks and licking his wounds.
So what does that have to do with me – I have lost 10,000+ words of a novel I have been working on. Using microsoft word, I worked on my novel all weekend using my laptop, saving at appropriate intervals and also using automatic save. I wasn’t reckless with it.
Then, when I attempted to share them with homegroup files, I received a message that Microsoft Word wasn’t responding and the file disappeared. When I reopened the file, it had reverted to the original without a single word from all of the weekend’s hard work.
I have looked in the recycle bin, I have tried restore, I checked the computer’s data base, I googled how to find lost files and meticulously followed the suggestions. No luck.
This happened once before but with pictures. I downloaded the pictures from my blackberry to my computer. It had never failed before so I allowed the option to delete them from my phone when transmission was complete. The pictures finished downloading, deleted from my phone, and have never been heard from since. I have no idea where they went or why. Perhaps they are having tea with my characters from the lost words.
I have wasted two, now going on three, days of possible writing time looking for the rogue words. I have learned a few computer tricks, but have not recovered my work. So, the question becomes how much more time should I devote to recovering them?
Maybe I should take this as a sign from the universe. Perhaps it wasn’t my best work, but a good exercise in where I am taking the characters. I think, like Ernest Hemingway, I’ll see this as an opportunity to do it better a second time and stop wasting more time fretting and endlessly searching for what doesn’t wish to be found.
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Oh, dear, I feel for you!
You probably recall that when Hadley first told Hemingway she had lost all his work, he didn’t (couldn’t, I think) believe her. He took the train all the way back from Lausanne to Paris to see for himself. “I remember what I did in the night when I let myself into the flat and found it was true. That was over now and Chink had taught me never to discuss casualties…it was probably good for me to lose early work…and all that stuff you feed the troops…[but] as I said it, only trying to lie…I knew that it was true…”
So, yeah. Probably time to press on ahead, and not look back. But you can’t be blamed for being pretty upset. And for feeling like probably those were the greatest 10,000 words you have ever written. 😦
But don’t worry. The next 10,000 (though painful to produce) will be just as good, or maybe even better…
The more time passes, the better the words become; kind of like the fish that gets bigger every time ‘the one that got away’ is discussed. I’m convinced they were brilliant, but probably only in my own mind!
Oh well, it doesn’t seem to have hurt Ernest’s career and the story is still in my head – as scary as that place is.
Thanks for the encouragement. I love hearing from you!