A to Z Challenge: Loss

Welcome back, new kids and veteran novelists. Today, I’ll be painting you a little picture.

Of a new novelist in the throes of typing a new idea. An amazing idea. One that will, to the novelist’s mind, set the market alight like Harry Potter. We’re all sort of egotistical when neither inner nor outer critics are watching. Especially in the beginning.

Anyway. Weeks pass. Wonders happen. The story grows. As does the word count.

Things can’t be better.

Until one day, the hard drive melts.

There is much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“Oh that’s silly,” the veteran will say now. “All he should do is take out his… Oh… wait. He didn’t back up, did he?”

No.

He didn’t.

When was the last time you backed up your writing? I know that there’s this sense of “this won’t happen to me”, but I fear it will. I’ve lost tens of thousands of words because I didn’t back up in enough places. So no. One flash drive isn’t enough. I now have two portable hard drives and cloud drives where I keep my back-ups. Another easy solution is to e-mail the back-ups to yourself.

Generally, it doesn’t even take long. So please, don’t procrastinate on this. Every day you don’t do it puts your work at greater risk.

One more word from the experienced, please make sure you’re copying from the correct folder and pasting to the correct folder. Because if you replace the new version of a doc with the old, the new one can’t ever be salvaged.

What’s your record loss? How did it come about?

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The post where I wrote what I didn’t want to say.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to rant.

It’s more of a venting…

Fact is that I’m ten days away from my last exam. I wish I could say last exam ever, but since I don’t know if that is the case, I decided to rather not be the die-hard optimist. Anyway…

That’s not what I want to go into. I’ll go into it when I’m really really back. Right now I’m more of a I’m hiding out from my other responsibilities back. Which is why I must keep this post short.

If I write too much, things are going to come out that would serve me better tightly caged. So…

Sometimes I hate thinking. In stead of making things clearer, thinking muddles everything up. Like worrying about what happens next.

There. See? I did it again. I freaking can’t stop. It’s like trying to stop a runaway train with a penny.

Right now, not thinking is taking so much concentration that I can’t really think about anything else.

Not a good state in which to find myself when I have to finish my exams.

Not that it matters. Since my economics happened again. This time slightly differently, but with the exact same effect. Well… not exactly the same. I got two poems (I think) out of it. In two languages.

Did I get a degree out of it?

A most emphatic no. See… when you write your predicate test in October and suddenly draw a complete blank (and I do mean complete) remaining calm to get through the work with a miraculous second chance just isn’t as possible as people seem to think. I studied for five weeks this time. I gave up my NaNo aspirations in order to get through the work. I did everything I could. 

I kept myself together admirably if I say so myself, even when I knew I wasn’t nearly prepared enough to feel good about writing. I sat down and turned the page. 

And… Nothing. Not a single solitary thing registered. I sat through an hour and a half out of three, trying to recall what I knew. I wrote two poems just to calm down enough to think. Nothing… Actually I think I wrote the poems just to create noise. It felt strange to be the only person in the room except the invigilator that wasn’t writing. 

In some sort bleak irony, that was the first time in months that my mind went completely quiet. 

Not that peaceful, calming quiet with running water and laughing children in the distance. I’m talking about that eerie roaring silence you get after a bomb went off close by. 

I think that I wrote “Sorry” in the answer sheet.

Maybe.

I can’t remember. 

Oh my word I wasn’t even going to write about this. I was going to mope fore a bit about how I can’t study because I want to write, but can’t write because I need to study. Something like that. But I guess this had to get out.

I haven’t told anyone yet. Everyone is assuming that there is hope, but refusing to talk about it. No one except for me, and now you, know how badly it really went. I just can’t deal with telling them. Maybe I’m a coward now.

Still… I feel a lot better now. It isn’t ruling my thoughts as much as before. So I can maybe pull myself together enough to get through the next ten days or so until I can face up to what I had allowed to happen to me and to the repercussions of it all.

But not right now. Now, I have to knuckle down and finish what I can.

One person… three tragedies (and no, I’m not talking about me)

Why do people do things like this to themselves?

My flat mate and I were having a loooong and wide-ranging discussion about emotions and guys and everything in between yesterday. You might think that I’m stretching the word long a bit, so I will have to explain that we can sit down and talk for hours… and not about fluff.

So during yesterday’s four hour discussion, she mentioned that she knew she wasn’t a practical person, and that she felt she was supposed to be creative, but just wasn’t. For the purpose of showing rather than telling, I will now paraphrase that segment of conversation. I’m sure that you’re dying to know about the rest of it, but as  said, a lot of words flowed… And… A lot of words were pretty out there. Any way, back to the story. (I think you might now understand why  never use a narrator.)

“You are creative,” I introduced gently, “I actually think you’d make a good writer.”
“No… I don’t think I will… I’m not as good with words as you are.” It took a lot of restraint for my mouth not to hang open. Sure I’m good with words, but to lower her belief in herself due to my skill?
“Honey, I’ve had years of practice. I’ve been writing since I could spell out words.” Truth, if somewhat exaggerated. I see myself as seriously having started at the age of twelve. But I was trying to get the point across. “You have a way with words.”
“No I don’t,” she insisted. “I tried it once and it was rubbish.” She ducked under her office table and took out a box that had been shoved right against the far corner. She opened it and dug right to the bottom. She took out some pages and handed them to me. “Don’t you think?”

On the pages were three poems. When I read them, no amount of self restrained could have kept my jaw from dropping.
“No I think this is good. Very good.”

Brilliant even. Her words carried every ounce of feeling she had while she had written them. How many people have you met that can do that? Translating feelings to writing is one of the most difficult aspects of writing. She had it down.

And I’m not kidding. I was partially raised by a woman that writes poetry and books for a living. I like to think that I know what I’m talking about when I say a poem is damn good.

So that’s the first tragedy. Marg just can’t see how good she is.

The second is that I told her how good she is… and she refused to believe me. I even went on to show her one of my more recent poems (due to the fact that she said she’s not as good as me) to show that her work wasn’t far from mine. That she just needs practice. She didn’t see it.

The third is that she showed me those poems because she trusts me (good taste. not tragic), but she’ll never let the world see her talent, because she doesn’t believe that she’s good at it.

It really saddens me to think how many good writers out there are lost to us just because they refuse to believe they are good. But what can I do to help my friend find her writing voice?