If it’s true that bad things come in 3’s I don’t want to know what’s next. It won’t make a difference either way, will it?
In my last post, I talked about what I see as a certain maturation in my writing. I wrote a piece — beginning, middle, and end — that I think is just boring. And not the kind of work that I think I’m capable of. What’s an (aspiring) author to do?
So today found me with another crappy moment that I’m assuming any real writer has experienced. My computer lost my work. Argh!
Over the last few years, I’ve found a writing style that works for me. Where I originally wrote everything straight to Web in my WordPress interface, today my posts begin as pencil in journal then make their way to the digital world. (I adopted this habit after looking at the great Neil Gaiman‘s journal pages which he unselfishly shared here. Shouldn’t be a big surprise. I gushed over the opportunity to meet him in this post.) Sometimes the piece is complete unto itself before I ever begin typing. Sometimes it’s started in pencil, finished via keyboard.
Today I was working on my entry for NYC Midnight‘s Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. Interesting idea. Each entrant is given a genre, setting, and object and has 48 hours to submit a 1000-words-or-less story using all of them. The first heat didn’t go very well for me. (I got “Romance” as a genre. Not my bag, baby.)
This time, though… happy days! I got Fantasy, a jail cell, and a ziploc plastic bag. I can do this!
The details came out Friday at midnight. I spent all day Saturday thinking about how to combine these elements for a story. 24 hours after I got my assignment, I had a workable idea.
Today (Sunday) after some time painting our new fence, I took some time to head over to a local watering hole and do some writing. I like writing where there are people making noise. (I’ve written about it here.) I order a beverage, got out my journal, and started writing.
Things were progressing well. I wrote the opening paragraphs then decided to start putting it to electronic device via my tablet. I had 250 words when I stopped to copy the post from Evernote over to my office documents app. I’ve experimented with various cross-platform tools in the past (between my Windows 7 desktop and my Android phone and tablet) and had settled on Evernote as convenient to share between the 3. I copied the post to the office app as a means of checking my progress against the challenge’s 1000 word limit. Great — 250 words and I was just about to turn the corner on the story. Get to the meat of it.
I was happy with the tone. It was unfolding well. I kept writing in Evernote and I figure I had about 600 words total when I decided to copy the block over to the other app again. Highlighted everything and right before I could hit “Copy”… Evernote returned to the last view. Meaning, all of my progress was gone. 350 of the 600 words I figure I’d written — gone.
I spent about 15 minutes searching the Web in a panic (no pun intended) trying to find a way to salvage what I had lost. No luck. From everything I saw online, the work was gone. If it didn’t sync, it was gone. Bye bye.
I did what any self-respecting man would do. I left the bar before I started to cry. I went home, painted the fence some more and tried to think about what I’d lost. A couple of hours later, I sat down at my computer and did my best to finish the story after being reset to the 250-word-mark. I finished up a little while ago. For what it’s worth, I’m happy with the end result. I could have done without the pain, though.
Along the way, I decided that I was done with Evernote. I’m sure that I’m not the first writer to lose something to the digital (and fickle) gods. But I’m certainly not going to give them another shot at me using the same tool! I found Google Docs and I’m happy with what seems to be a more robust infrastructure. I’ll use this for now.
My question to you, my dear readers — what do you use to work across devices? Have you been burned by the loss of data? What’s your solution?
p.s. The contest rules say to allow 72 hours for validation of my entry before posting the story anywhere. I’ll be happy to share this work here in a few days!