Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Worst Day of My Writing Life

Hello, worst day of my writing life. You are characterized by instant upper-lip sweating, full-body shakes, and many, many tears. You began at approximately 1:07 AM, Saturday, December 29th and didn't end until after 7 PM the following day. I hate you, by the way.

Let's back up. 1:03 AM was a very, very good moment. Lisa and I had just spent the past 4 DAYS, 4 HOURS per night, READING ALOUD our current edit for THIS IS W.A.R. My voice was hoarse for 4 days because we labored over every word, discussed changes at length and went off on many, many tangents. Lisa had track changes on her computer and I had a brand, spanking new document I was building as we went. AKA the final version. I saved obssessively--an every-five-minutes-kind-of-save, a type-a-word-hit-save kind of save, a if-I-hit-save-one-more-time-I-will-be-considered-a-save-junky kind of save. You get the idea. 1:00 struck and we FINISHED. We spent approximately 1 hour on the last paragraph of the book, literally tearing apart every word to make sure we got it right. And then BAM. It was right and it was finished and it was good.

Lisa: Send me the document and we'll send to Dan. Yay!!!
Laura: Wait...I thought you were doing the edits.
Lisa: Very funny.
Laura: Ha ha ha. He. he. he.

We hung up the phone and I saved one last time before exiting the beautifully complete document to attach to an email. And then my world as I knew it was swallowed up. All of the dates on the This Is War FINAL document showed the wrong date. Christmas day to be exact. The day we began editing. This is not right. This is not right. Don't panic. This is not right. I opened Word to check my most recent documents. Not listed.

Cue terrified shakes. And heavy breathing. And tears. Lots and lots of instant tears.

I knew deep down that it had to be somewhere. I had saved the document religiously. It was on my computer. Word hadn't given me any Are you sure you want to exit without saving? messages and I HAD saved. I conducted a series of searches. My husband came downstairs at 2:30 afraid that I wasn't in bed. I cried. He searched my computer. Nothing. I continued searching until 3:30 in the morning and then finally cried myself to sleep hoping when I awoke, the entire experience would turn out to be a bad dream, the finished document waiting in our inbox where it belonged.

But who am I kidding? This is the worst day of my writing life. I woke up and the document showed Christmas day, reflecting not one of the changes Lisa and I had discussed. I had a few options.

1. Continue wasting valuable time searching.
2. Take my computer to a computer genius and beg.
3. Tell Lisa. Cry. Ask for forgiveness.
4. Start over.

So...I took a shower and cried. Ditched my kids with my husband and hightailed it to the nearest computer genius store and cried. No dice. If the document wasn't found during a search of all files as well as hidden files, it was gone. If it had been deleted, genius would have been able to help. Not saved properly? Nope. But I did save properly, I Saved As, I hit the save button continuously, I DID SAVE PROPERLY, but it was neither here nor there. Didn't matter. A waste. Gone.

So I parked my very sad-looking self into a seat at the library. And I started over. I knew I couldn't tell Lisa about my mistake until I had finished, until I knew that I could finish and make everything right again. My husband stayed with the kids and I worked the entire day/night recreating the hours of work we had lost. Luckily, I have a good memory and I had been the one adding the changes in the first place. The entire process was the definition of deja vu--reading aloud the original must have helped because I'm pretty confident I caught everything and maybe even a few misses. And every hour? I emailed an attachment and copied and pasted the document into an email to myself. If I was an obssesive saver before, I've developed into a complete head case.

I did eventually tell Lisa. But not until the document was safely nestled into our inbox where it should have been all along.


Dianne K. Salerni said...

Oh my gosh, that's terrible! What could have happened?! Did the computer guru find anything wrong with your computer? Is Word corrupted?

I am running off right now to save my WIP to Google Docs and email it to myself. I do that once a day when making final edits like you were, but I don't think I've done it recently to my first draft. (Big mistake. I'm a lot less familiar with a first draft than final edits.)

Matthew MacNish said...

Oh Laura, that sounds so traumatic! Have you ever considered Dropbox? It's free, and while there isn't enough space for photos or music, there is plenty for Word Docs. I use it every day to back up my manuscripts, and I do it manually, but there is also an option to have the software back it up for you automatically anytime you save changes.

Let me know if you want me to send you an invite, and I'm glad you managed to get it worked out, even if it did take all that crazy extra effort.

Laura Pauling said...

I would've absolutely lost it! Thankfully you're on the other side of it, but I agree, that would def. be a worst moment. I just started using Dropbox too. :)

B.E. Sanderson said...

OMG, every writer's worst nightmare. :hugs: Now I'm racking my brain to figure out how in the blazes that happened to you, and I can't think of a thing that would've caused that. Lucky you had it up in your head. Sorry you had to go through the work of re-doing everything, though. :hugs:

Melissa Sarno said...

That is terrible :( I'm impressed with your memory and your ability to re-do the edits. I think I would have just sat crying forever!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Wow. *hugs*

storyqueen said...

I lost 4 pages the other day and I freaked out. I can't imagine what you must have gone through.

So glad that day is behind you!


Marsha Sigman said...

I have nightmares about this happening. I've taken to backing everything up on a flash drive but I am still paranoid about it. There is no way I would be able to remember all of a manuscript. You are awesome.ha

Krispy said...

OMG, this really is like the worst writing day ever. I'm so sorry this happened to you and am so impressed that you pulled it together and got it did. That's so weird that it just vanished like that though! What the heck.

Sometimes computers do weird things though. I once lost a whole slew of vacation photos because of a transfer gone wrong. :P

Here's hoping this never happens again. *HUGS*

Caroline Starr Rose said...


Katie said...

So glad you were able to re-write it all -- and probably even better the second time!

erica m. chapman said...

Aww :o( That's awful!! You poor girl. Glad you were able to re-write it, but DANG. I agree with Matthew. I use dropbox too. Good program.

Sending lots of *hugs* your way <33

Maggie Hall said...

OH NO. I just got hives reading this. I am SO sorry.

Something like this happened to me recently--it wasn't revisions on the entire doc, but a ton of final revisions on the most difficult 100 pages or so. I KNOW I saved it, a million times, and was gone. I do use Dropbox, but of course I was in this delirious revision state and had forgotten to do it those couple days. Cue more crying than I had done in a long time.

So congratulations on getting it worked out, and I bet it turned out even better the second time around! :)

erica and christy said...

Oh my goodness, how could that have happened?? I've always used Adobe Acrobat to type in (and then export it to my harddrive) and it works excellently for our cowritten books.

But, oh, yes, tears!! So glad you have such a good memory!

sari said...

I have a sick feeling in my stomach after reading this. What a nightmare! I guess the only good thing is that you know you *can* get past something like this if you have to, though you can certainly hope you never have to again.

Stephanie Campbell said...

I had this exact same thing happen two days before I was supposed to release Delicate. Everyone kept saying, "you must not have saved it right." BUT I DID. And there were many, MANY tears. And I published it late because I had to go in and rewrite so much of it. And it's a lesson learned. Also, I hate that lesson and it still makes me sick to my stomach.

So glad you gals got it done. Hugs.

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