I know we’ve all heard about the importance of regular backups. And of hitting “Save” regularly in your word processor while you are working.
Today, I’d like to pop in and remind you that those things don’t always save you. Backups can corrupt. A file can appear to save, but actually not commit.
Ask me how I know. Let’s say, for example, that I have a sub-notebook that I use exclusively for writing. And let’s say this notebook never really gets shut down–I just close it and put it to sleep when I’m not writing.
And say further, that the universe decides to align against me one day. So that, for some strange reason, when I click Save, my work appears to save, but actually…nothing happens. If I had known to check, I would have seen that the file modified date was old. But who thinks to look? After all, why wouldn’t it save, unless the universe randomly decided to align against me?
So let’s say after I think I have saved, I close my laptop, and plug in it to charge. Only for some strange reason, though it is plugged in, it is not actually charging. For no apparent reason, because both the laptop and the charger are fine. The outlet is fine, too. But the laptop fails to charge.
In this scenario, my laptop would have lost power about 3:14 this morning. It would have done a critical battery save-state thing it does, and then made the Windows 7 shut-down chime that woke me up.
Only, the save state thing didn’t work out either. All of my writing from yesterday was lost. The document my computer presented to me today was from two days ago.
This kind of loss can make me shelve a story for weeks, or months–because I’m always sure whatever I write now won’t be as good as the material that was lost. Fortunately for me, though, no words were actually lost in this case. Why not?
Because my lucky stars were watching out for me. And I’m an old fogey who likes to write longhand. (Is 38 old? I’ve got to tell you, most of the time, it feels like it is. 🙂 )
In the recent heavy rains we had, our driveway, which is steep and downhill and gravel/dirt, washed out pretty badly. The gravel that is left is large and loose. And yesterday when I walked down to get the mail, I fell on the loose gravel. I managed to land with most of my weight on my left hand, and centered under the heel of my hand was a rock. So my left hand swelled up and turned frightening colors, and became pretty well useless for typing.
So I broke out the paper and pens, and copied down the writing I had already done, and finished yesterday’s writing longhand. I did it to save my hand any further pain, and I copied all the new material so that I would have it handy for reference as I was working. I wasn’t planning on that longhand copy saving my butt, but it did.
Thank you, lucky stars!
Is there a moral here? Probably. We should probably be checking the document modified date after we save a file. We should probably be regularly printing out hard copy of new material, so that the entire work is backed up in physical form. The problem is that those things are a pain, they intrude on time we would rather spend writing, and we tend to just not do them.
But as for me, I intend to start.