It’s been a year now that we’ve all been living the pandemic life. The Restless Writers continue to feel grateful for our good health and that of our families, our jobs and the time we still carve out for our writerly quartet.
For me, the last year has been one that’s compelled me to take stock of many things in my life, including the progress of my current writing project – a novel I started back in 2016. Yes, you read that correctly. After hitting a bit of a roadblock last summer, the RWs encouraged me to take a step back and do an inventory of all of the chapters I had under my belt. Maybe seeing the big picture would be just the thing I needed to spark the next step in the story.
It seemed like an easy enough assignment and I anticipated the self satisfaction I would feel, seeing all those chapters lined up together. My roundup hit a roadblock right out of the gate. While I had saved the last three chapters of my book in a document file on my laptop, the first six chapters were stashed on a family hard drive.
“No problem there,” I thought. I found the hard drive, plugged it in, and dutifully waited for it to hum to life. Except there was no hum. I tried connecting it to a different computer. Nothing. I tried a different USB cable. No luck. I began to Google and ordered a special, more powerful USB cable online during lock down. Nada. The weeks went by and I searched YouTube, looking for a solution. Screwdriver in hand, I popped off the plastic casing to get at the hard drive disk and try it in a new docking station. Things were going from bad to worse and I started to panic about all those chapters I hadn’t seen in so long.
I did what any good writer would do and lamented about my hard drive dilemma to my RWs at one of our meetings. All that work, just out of my reach. “Oh, no problem,” said Maria. I have everything you’ve ever sent us. I’ll save the chapters on a USB stick for you.” And just like that I was back in the game.
Maria dropped the USB key around to my house on a Friday evening and it sat on my bedside table for the next three days. I was nervous. Like making plans to see an old partner after many years apart, I wondered what the pages would look like. Would I still find them exciting? Or would I wonder what in the world I had been thinking when I wrote them?
On the fourth day, I plugged the USB into my computer and there they were in a little folder, “for Sharon.” The comfort of seeing all the chapters nested one under the other was real. I dove in, reading.
To my amazement, much like it does in love, the distance from my early chapters did make my heart grow fonder. There were definitely a few sections that made me cringe, including a long-forgotten plot point that even had me shouting back to the page,”what?” But, on the whole, I still felt connected to what I had written and inspired to keep going and push through the final yet-to-be-written chapters.
This whole experience has given me a new appreciation for my writing and the way in which I take care of it. As Maya Angelou says, “when you know better, do better.” So from here on out, you can find me spending all the money on a good quality hard drive and utilizing a storage system for my files that has a backup for the backup.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou
If ever you find yourself in a similar predicament, may you have the good fortune to have a friend who’s flippin organized, has saved every piece of writing you’ve sent to her, offers to load it up on a USB key and hand deliver to your front door in a pandemic. Thank you Maria.