Writing? What writing?

I thought perhaps doing an update on my writing, or lack thereof, might give me the kick in the butt I need. I haven’t written a single word this year. Or, more correctly, I haven’t written a single word on my new story. I’ve done numerous long blog posts about our winter vacation, and lately I’ve been busy with promotion on Dare to Risk All’s release. I’ve also done some research for my new story, but I haven’t actually started writing it.

I’ve had a huge setback, losing all my previous notes on the story, and that really took the wind out of my sails. I still don’t quite know how that happened and I feel quite sick about the entire thing, but they’re gone and I have to accept it and find a way to move on.

As I worked on my last project, currently in the submission process, I had a document file with notes – character names listed on the top followed by sequential scene notes, snatches of dialogue, ideas, whatever, which I’d refer to as I wrote. I was also already thinking about the new project, so as ideas would come to me, I started jotting them down at the bottom of this same document.

That was my first mistake. I should’ve started a new file. I guess my rational was because I didn’t have a title for the new project yet, and my ‘notes’ file was already open, it was easier to just use it. As the months went by, that bottom section got quite extensive with character names, bits of scenes, dialogue, and all sorts of vague or not-so-vague ideas for the new story.

At the end of December, I finished the wip, so no longer needed to keep the notes on it, just the list of character names. And this is where things get murky and I obviously made my second mistake. In my mind, I deleted all the notes I didn’t need and changed the name of the file from ‘notes’ to ‘names’, cutting and pasting the notes on the new project to a new file. Of course, I always back everything up to a flashdrive right away.

Fast-forward to last week when I was ready to start working on the as yet unnamed project. I needed to research a certain park in Vancouver for my opening scene, and I did this on my desktop computer and saved the information to a flashdrive to add to the notes on my laptop, where I usually write. Clear as mud, so far, right? I know.

I booted up the laptop and opened the documents folder to find the file of notes. I looked and I looked. No file. I checked the recycling bin. No file. I checked the flashdrive. No file. I whipped downstairs and checked both my desktop and portable hard drive. No file. I went back to the laptop and scanned through every single document file on it. Not one single word anywhere about the new project. It was gone. Vanished forever into neverland.

To say I was devastated would be putting it mildly. All that work. Gone. For days I felt both numb and nauseous.

I’m guessing one of two things happened. One: in a brain-dead moment, I somehow deleted everything from the ‘note’ document, including the notes on the new project, then diligently saved the file to the flashdrive thereby overwriting that copy. Or two: in a brain-dead moment, I cut all the pertinent information from the ‘notes’ document, intending to paste it into a new document, but somehow got sidetracked before doing so. This new Word program doesn’t prompt about large amounts of material left on the clipboard when I exit a document like my old program did, so if I saved and exited, the cut material would be gone forever. And because I always backup immediately to the flashdrive, that file was changed too, before I realized my mistake.

I’ll likely never know what actually happened. However, it was an error on my part and I have to deal with it. What’s lost is lost. So I’ve started a new file and have been making new notes, trying to remember as much as I can from before. It’ll never be the same and that’s okay, I guess. Maybe my new stuff will be even better.

I’ve got a good outline. Still no title, although a few ideas are taking hold. I’m getting to know my characters quite well and I’m ready, I hope, to finally start that first scene.

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