When The Universe Strikes

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Gather round, friends, it’s storytime with Cathy. 

It was midday Tuesday, and I sat down at my desk, opened my laptop to a word document, and began to write this very blog post. I had an idea, and once I got started, the words flowed. To be exact, 239 words were on the page when out of the blue, my curser stopped. 

At first, I thought it was the mouse, and so I tried to direct the curser manually. But that did not fix the problem and as I realized my laptop had frozen, my cell phone rang. 

ME: Hold on a sec, I need to figure out what to do about this document on this &^&^* frozen laptop.

DAUGHTER: Uh-Oh. (And then Daughter went into a long story about her work laptop and how she had to purchase a new one and eventually circled back to built-in obsolescence which happens to be a thing we both believe exists. And regularly targets members of the Hall family.) 

ME: I’ll have to shut down to get my laptop going again so I’m going to take a picture of what I’ve written, just in case it’s not automatically recovered. But boy am I glad that I wasn’t working on my novel! 

And so that’s what I did and we continued to chat about whatever was the purpose of the call and I was fine with that because it was not too terribly late and I had plenty of time to write the blog post. 

So I went back to Word and sure enough, there was the blog post but a few paragraphs of what I’d written were missing. No problem, I thought, and I pulled up the image, re-wrote the part I’d lost, and then continued on my merry way. I required a few finishing touches but I wanted to catch the news so I minimized the doc.

Now it’s around 6 and I sat down again to do those few edits; I was in a hurry because that’s usually the time I get my novel-writing done. But first, I remembered that I hadn’t emailed my manuscript to me and since my laptop was getting wonkier and wonkier every day, I took care of that business. And then, I added the last few sentences and saved my blog post. 

But I had an uneasy feeling about that save function. Something about it didn’t feel right so I double-checked my documents. Yep, there it was so I pulled up the doc and…no blog post. Nothing but a big blank page. 

Okay, I tell myself not to panic. The document is there, I just have to find it. But I don’t remember how to find unsaved and/or deleted documents. And so for forty-five minutes, I watch helpful videos and try EVERYTHING POSSIBLE. 

You can probably guess what happened next. There was no document. Nada, zilch, zero. At this point, I could attempt to remember every word I’d written and re-write. Or I could eat (It was, after all, 7:40) and then watch The Voice.

So here’s the thing: if the Universe destroys your blog post not once, but TWICE, I think one should listen. So I ditched that blog post, enjoyed The Voice, and sat back down at my laptop at 9:00 to work on my Nano manuscript.

Now, I’m not one of those people who write late at night. At 9:30 or so, I’m taking care of household chores that don't require too much brain power (like washing clothes or opening mail) and I had a whole list of things to do. But I employed a little “planned neglect” and managed to get my word count in by 10:45 or so. 

When next we meet, friends, I’ll tell you all about planned neglect and how it can make you a better writer. But the moral of this particular story (written Wednesday afternoon) is this: Don’t waste your time crying over spilt milk (or lost words from a blog post). Also, built-in obsolescence is real and out to get you so make sure you have a reliable back up system. And finally, this blog post is way better than that other one. I mean, would you have wanted to read all about grammar? 

Exactly. (You can thank The Universe.)


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

When I started writing for Children's Writer newsletter, every now and then my file would just . . . poof. I would have to reconstruct the article in 24 hours or so.

And it was always better. Why? I think because I knew at that point where I wanted to go. No fluff. No side trips.

But it is still an awful feeling. Fingers crossed that you and your laptop can come to an arrangement.

Cathy C. Hall said...

We're on better terms today, Sue! :-)

I know it sounds crazy but all the writing I've done since the freeze out/lost draft hasn't had a single glitch. Coincidence? (I think not!)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--I have deliberately "lost" writing pieces (by not looking at them) so I can rewrite them for another market/anthology. You are right--sometimes bad things lead to great results.

And yes, I'm glad I didn't have to read about grammar today. ;)

Linda O'Connell said...

Oh dear Cathy, I am heartbroken, I have lost my ability to post on my blog and after watching numerpus videos I can't access a POST button. Something to do with changed passwords which my husband changes frequently. UGH.

My daughter was in the middle of submitting a test when her computer froze. She went to bed, slept on it, and in the morning her score was posted. Those gremlins in our computers!

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