This Side Up

Save first, think (or write) later


It has surely happened to all of us, so I suppose that’s comforting.

But at the moment your screen goes blank and your work disappears, that’s of little consolation. How did it happen? What combination of keys were mistakenly hit to cause this?

And it makes you wonder, if the power had flickered and then returned the machine would have saved what you had. That’s happened, so it’s got to be there somewhere.

The thought crossed my mind Sunday. Was there hope of recovering more than two hours of writing, enough to fill four screen pages with over 1,500 words?

First, before even searching, there was anger. I was mad at myself for not, as I’ve been told, to name a file after opening a new document. That would have been the thing to do. Yet, I was collecting information I had written earlier on a laptop and sent to myself. Some of it was quotes transcribed from an interview. It was far from complete. I dove into the project and found it frustratingly awkward.

I suppose at that point, I should have stopped, taken a break and maybe even started over. I’d already invested an hour so I just moved on and figured the story would come together.

“Push through it,” were the words my son Ted used when he had a pain in his elbow and continued playing tennis. As it turned out, that wasn’t the thing to do, which he finally realized after visiting a doctor and later undergoing an operation.

I pushed on and finally, after reading and rewriting, I reached a point where the story seemed complete. I deleted my notes from the completed document and with relief was ready to move on.

I still hadn’t saved anything, but then that hardly seemed necessary. Wasn’t the computer auto saving everything? Isn’t that what the FBI and law enforcements agencies count on when they seize computers? Won’t they find even documents that are purposely deleted?

And then I must have struck just the wrong combination of keys. The screen flashed and in place of my completed story was a bunch of gibberish. It looked to be some form of code. Behind the document were other documents, one I had opened earlier and what I thought was my story.

Then the program queried whether I wanted to save what I had. I sent the gibberish into cyber space and to my horror the program closed. I was back to my desktop.

Even before starting my search. Even before calling our IT expert Dave Faucher on a Sunday afternoon, I had that sinking thought that I had wiped the slate clean. I’m sure others, perhaps Michael Cohen, would have wished for as much, but not me.

My search found nothing.

Maybe it was in the cloud. Dave has a way of checking remotely, which is uncanny but, given the prospect of rewriting the story, was now my only alternative. I got him on the second ring. He walked me through several searches and he recovered an earlier story that I had saved. It wasn’t what I was looking for. He had me file a test and monitored the cloud to see if it came up on his end. It did. Finally, he reached the conclusion I had already come to – my work was gone.

Carol called from the kitchen. Dinner was ready, was I coming down?

I knew what I’d be doing after dinner. And I knew what I’d do first – create a file.


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