Writing Resource 7/100: Backup

Today’s resource is part advice, part ‘why would I listen to anything you say when you’re clearly as dumb as a box of rocks’?

Backup: Unbelievably obvious, right?

This thought struck me as I spent a considerable part of last night and into the early hours of this morning, as well as this morning searching for my old faithful 64 GB USB stick.

Yes, I’d backed up work on individual pieces of work as I went along (not getting too annoyed at the occasional lapse in auto-save which my PC seems to like switching off at random moments), and reasonably regularly back up entire folders between USB/ Laptop/ PC…not, clearly as regularly as I should.

There’s this thing called Cloud Storage these days…I have it: a One Drive account – I hate it for some reason, and keep forgetting to use it…I’ll probably try to change that habit moving forward.

I’ve got external hard drives – three of them. Haven’t used them in an age. I’ll probably try to change that habit too…

All this to say: of course there are a lot of ways to back up and save.

I guess I just got too complacent about making a backup of a backup of a backup…Certainly as I slog through my files from the various sources I do have, to try and consolidate some sort of semblance of my work,  I’m finding multiple copies of the same stuff appearing everywhere…but other stuff? Why the hell didn’t I remember to copy from other places than just my USB stick? A lot of them were because I was working offline and didn’t copy to Cloud…but that’s no excuse, it’s easy enough to set up sync for when you are back on line…if you’re not stupid/ lazy.

As Jack Schofield, the Guardian’s computer editor says : “…Schofield’s Second Law of Computing asserts, data doesn’t really exist unless you have two copies of it. Preferably more. And the only person who can be held responsible for that is you.”

So, I’ve got no-one to blame for what I’ve lost – I know that: and it is quite a lot: at this precise moment I’m trying to avoid thinking about exactly how much…

But there’s another element of it: not just having to re-create so much stuff (and the paranoia/ misguidance that all the stuff you’ve lost was the best stuff you had or ever will write: that one work-in-process really was THE ONE…), it’s the worry about where the damn thing has gone. I lost my precious USB stick somewhere between my house, the venue I gave a talk at last night, the restaurant I went to afterwards, and the journey back home. It could be anywhere along that route. It’s also possible, of course, it is sitting somewhere in the house, hiding nervously like a red-headed skinny kid at a party (and I was that red-headed skinny kid, so I know) – it’s possible: my man-searching is legendary round these parts.

But I don’t think so.

So there is always the worry that someone has come across that piece of literary gold, and is using it for their own nefarious means: that some day I’ll see ‘A Dark and Stormy…something: a Work in Process” turn up as a bestselling novel/ movie/ radio adaptation/ all-of-the-above and I’ll wonder, “What WAS James Cameron doing walking through the streets of Leamington Spa on that October night back then…”

So I’m now actually hopefully that if it’s gone for ever, it’s down a drain somewhere. Tthe stuff on there: the good, the bad, and the ugly would be too much of a shame to fall into ‘the wrong hands’ – don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if years from now pics are going to show up of me, a tub of peanut butter and a hairless guinea pig (I saw one of those the other day- those things are almost cute enough to stop the tears currently flowing…). But still…it’s annoying, frustrating, and potentially a bit worrying.

So…what do you do? Well, I’m trying to be ‘Positive Puck‘ today (as opposed to ‘Forgetful F…?‘) and say –

If it wasn’t fully written then it probably wasn’t meant to be.

No-one died (although there are a few dead bodies in some of those half-finished tales),

Look at it as a chance to start again: those folders were in a hell of a mess anyway.

The best ideas are sit there in the paper files.

There’s a lot of stuff you have still got…

It might make a story somewhere down the line.

Grin and bear it.

It’s a lesson to be learned, and you’ll never, ever do something that stupid again…(Lesson last delivered back in 2002…how well did that one stick?)

So, lesson from resource number 7/100 – back up your shit.

Lesson from number 8/100? Could be ‘water is wet’…

Happy writing and backing up..



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