Friday, May 07, 2010

Writer's Journey:

Backing Up is  Hard to Do!!!

Well, I had a bit of a misadventure this week in my writing life.  Luckily, it turned out all right.  Here's what happened . . .

First, let me say that I'm a fanatic when it comes to backing up my work.  As I'm writing, I'm constantly hitting the save button, EVEN though I have Word automatically set up to save every five minutes.  When I finish my writing for the day, I save it to the desk top and to Documents.  I also save to a flash drive . . . or two ( one for home, one for the purse).  I now save everything in email, too.

Obsessive?  Yes, but I'd much rather be safe than sorry.  Writing is hard work.  I don't want to try to recreate a piece of work that I've sweated blood and tears over.

So now, I'm working on this Grand Experiment, you know . . . self-publishing.  I have five or six manuscripts languishing on the hard drive.  Or so I thought.  I've been writing a LONG time.   I've been through numerous computers.  I've always carefully moved my stuff from computer to computer.  I moved documents from Word Perfect to Word.  My manuscripts have lived in more new places than I have.  But like I said, I've been writing a LONG time.

Imagine my surprise and dismay when I went into my document folder to pull up one of my favorite stories, only to find that I couldn't.  All that came up was a bunch of gibberish and strange symbols.  Okay, don't panic, Anne Marie.  Thank God, I had hard copies.  But the thought of retyping all of those manuscripts made me queasy.

Then I remembered I still had an old laptop of my husband's that I had used before my present laptop.  Digging it out of the closet, I sent up a silent prayer of thanks that I had not gotten rid of it yet.  I set it up, turned it on, then promptly forgot the password that opened the blamed thing.   I tried all afternoon to open that sucker.  Sigh.  I won't go into the details about why I hadn't written down the password.  It was hubby's and I had never changed it.  HE couldn't remember it either.   Lesson:  Make a note of passwords.

I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to retype the manuscripts.  I tried to be thankful that at least I had hard copies.   I WAS thankful I had hard copies.  But still . . .

As I washed the dinner dishes, I thought about all those years I had written on that old laptop.  How I would sit down, turn it on, then type in the password.  I focused my thoughts on my hands and how they looked on the keyboard.  How the clicking of my fingers sounded as I typed in the sequence of letters and numbers.  

Suddenly, I remembered!!!  I hoped . . .

Quickly, I dried my hands and ran to my office and sat down in front of the old laptop.  Another silent prayer . . . and YES!!!  I was in!!!  Oh, the joy.  The sweet taste of victory!!!  I felt like a secret agent breaking a code.  I had unlocked a treasure.

As I pulled up my documents, I greeted each manuscript like a long lost friend.   I pulled up the books, and the words on the screen were lovely to behold.  Carefully, I saved each manuscript onto a flash drive and transferred them to my newest computer, crossing my fingers in the hopes that the transfer would work.  Something had happened back when I had changed computers and the documents had not been saved correctly.   Would it work this time?

I'm happy to say:  Yes, it did.  I now have all of my manuscripts safely installed on this computer and in working order.  They also reside on the flash drive and in my email.  Two email accounts, in fact.  You can never be too careful.

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)


Marie Tuhart said...

Anne Marie, I'm glad you were able to rescue your old manuscripts. I'm obsessive about backing up my documents as well, I've lived through a hard drive crash and only lost one e-book, after 8 hours over 2 nights of sweating to get everything off the computer.

I keep hard copies of my books too, just in case, retyping doesn't bother me.

Have a great Friday.

AnneMarie Novark said...


I'm glad I'm not the only compulsive one. I cringe when I hear people say they rarely/never back up.

Retyping wouldn't be SO bad. But recreating would have me pulling my hair out . . . or worse.

Happy Writing!!!

Jannine Gallant said...

I'm so glad it worked out for you. I had my computer crash a couple of years ago and thought I had lost my entire completed manuscript. I was shaking as I remembered I had e-mailed it to a potential agent. Luckily I recovered it, but I did lose chapters on a new WIP. Lesson learned. Now I always back up my work!

AnneMarie Novark said...


Thank goodness you recovered the completed ms. Sorry about the lost chapters. But it's a good lesson to learn.

I have nightmares about hard drives crashing.

I have a dedicated external hard drive on the "big" computer, and I need to get one for my writing computer. I'm saving my pennies.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

So, glad it worked out for you. I've lost my first two stories to old computers. One I have a hard copy of, the other my sister-in-law has, boxed up in her garage, where it'll probably never see the light of day again!

I have an automatic save through It saves the stuff on my computer every 12 hours.

But thanks for the reminder that, no matter how much easier it is to use a computer, it's also that much easier to lose work!

Mary Ricksen said...

Yeah!! Thank God losing information scares me to death. To redo all that work, ugh!. I have an automatic on line backup thing. I save all my documents to it. It's called Mozy. Works for me!
I have discs and backup on the hard thingee too!

linda_rettstatt said...

I'm so relieved to know I'm not the only one who stashes flash drives and carries one on her person all the time. I've experienced that awful feeling of watching a file just disappear before my eyes because the file became damaged. I think we all learn the back-up lesson the hard way. I backup each day on the laptop and on a flash drive, and I back up that flash drive once a week onto three others. Okay, excessive, but I'm not taking any chances.