Random Thoughts: Rites of Passage for Writers: Part the First

So, there are a lot of things that writers go through that are shared with anyone working at other professions that kind of suck, and then there are the things that for writers feel like the end of the known universe.

Last week, I was catching up with Devon Miller, who just moved to the other coast, and she experienced the dreaded LOST BOX OF MANUSCRIPTS.

I’ve done that. Lost whole manuscripts. Once to a computer meltdown, once to wind. Yep. That scene from Wonderboys where the main character watches thousands of pages ride the wind into Pittsburgh’s three rivers? That happened to me. Except it was a much shorter piece, it was not in a major PA city, and there were no rivers. I was later able to reconstruct the story. The second version was probably better. (That particular piece was the novella, Fork You, which appears in Panverse One as well as Aliens in the Soda Machine in Other Strange Tales.) That first piece? I did recover it, but you know, that was my first novel  so it is probably best as something that disappeared. It is easy to say that now. If I recall correctly, when it happened there was weeping. Probably drunken weeping. Of course, having gone through this I’ve learned my lesson, always back your stuff up, and do it in multiple ways. Also, maybe next time don’t drink so much when upset. Friends REALLY don’t like the drunken weeping. Unless it’s in a rom-com or something.

The novella I lost was a different story though. The first draft had been written on scrap paper at a job I was working, many moons ago. It fell out of a hardcover book I was reading at the time. I lost it on the way home where the plan had been to enter it into my computer. I didn’t weep that time, I just re-wrote it. I was frustrated but not devastated. I suppose that’s progress?

One of the worst things that can happen to a writer is to lose the very tools with which we ply our craft. In olden-times, that meant you broke your typewriter ribbon or there was perhaps no ink for your quill. “Egads! I’ve run out of parchment!” one might have exclaimed. You can see where I am headed with this, right? THE COMPUTER CRASH OF DOOM!!!

That’s what’s going on with me right now. No computer. Right now, I’m doing this on a borrowed device. It feels kind of wrong. My work is backed up, but I still feel a bit lost. It seems like I should be able to just shrug it off, pick up a pen and a notebook and perform the writing work as scheduled while I wait for Ye Old Compy to get fixed. I’m surprised by how anxious I am without it, even though I’ve been through it before. Here’s the likely scenario going forward: it will take a few days to get used to working without a net (see what I did there?) and then just as I am getting comfortable again, the problem will be resolved.

How about all of you other writer peeps out there in the blogosphere? What are some writerly rites of passage that send you running as if from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?



4 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: Rites of Passage for Writers: Part the First

  1. Oh yes. When I was writing my first novel on a borrowed computer, something happened to the hard drive. I thought I’d lost the entire ms. That’s when I learned about data retrieval services. While writing my pirate novel, I suffered a disk crash that cost me two months of work. I’m diligent to the point of paranoia about back-ups now. That sense of the floor dropping out from under you and your belly heading for the basement…. Nuh uh. I do not like that.

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