by Cindy R. Williams
The tools of a writer used to be pencil or pen and paper. Simpler times, yes, but I find hand writing messy and disorganized since you can't delete, copy, cut and paste with just a touch of your finger tip. On paper you have to shuffle papers, cross out, circle and draw arrows, or cut the paper and tape paragraphs here and there. I like order too much, so this makes me crazy, although I do keep notebooks everywhere to jot ideas down as the pop into my head.
The most current tool of a writer today is, of course, the computer. We not only use computers to type our stories on, but as Internet research along with email others for information. Then we use the computer as our storage facility for our working stories and our completed babies. We won't even venture into the marketing ability of computers. That's another blog.
However, these wonderful, convenient and ingenious computers have a HUGE black whole.
The hard drive crashes.
If you've been a victim of a hard drive crash, you know exactly what chaos this causes. If you're not prepared, you could lose your entire book, years and years of work.
This week was my THIRD crash of my hard drive in five years --three different lap tops, three crashes.
I could have kept the computers and purchased a new hard drive to the tune of $430, along with a $50 replacement disc plus a $200 battery (the old battery has worn out and only holds a 10 minute charge.) But, now I'm up to $780 to repair my computer.
Or . . . I can purchase a new computer for around $600 with all the bells and whistles and the new technology and most current *Word System.
I did my research, and ordered a . . . drum roll please ############
sea shell pink *- - - - , - - - - E 15.5" screen E Series. It weighs five pounds and is amazing. I think the pretty pink color will inspire my muse. Plus, I'm the only girl left in the house--three sons at home, my darling dear, two gigantic boy gold fishies, and two goofy boy doggies. None of them will try to steal my PINK computer.
I now give an EXTREMELY DIRE WARNING: PLEASE USE AN OFF-SITE BACK-UP SYSTEM!
Sure, go ahead and use flash drives, but remember, flash drives are easily damaged and sometimes fail. What if there's a house fire? One of my good friends copied her novel to a flash drive then put it in a safe place . . . so safe, she can't find it.
You can also email your stories as attachments to a friend. But, now you have to rely on them to create a file and guard your WIP's, and you have to do this often because if your computer crashes, you will have to back to what you last sent them. Also consider that their computer can crash.
You can email your stories and novels to yourself. Again, you must do this on a weekly schedule if you write often so that you will have your recent work to fall back on.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR COMPUTER IS CRASHING?
Sometimes you hear grinding of the mysterious innards, not me though. I was forewarned in each of my three computer crashes by the dreaded "blue screen of death." Your computer shuts down on its own and then when it restarts, a blue screen appears with white text that tells about checking this and that. You can still work for awhile, but the shut downs and blue screen appearances get more frequent.
My first computer crash, I had adhered to the practice of emailing stories often to my husband on his office computer so I had a back up.
Before my second crash, I had become complacent, feeling that hard drives crashing were much like lighting strikes, I had been hit once, so I was now safe. Not so. It cost $500 to have a professional service pull my files out of the dead hard drive plus the cost of a new lap top.
This third time, the blue screen of death warned me and I acted. First I contacted my lap top technical service and we tried an online patch. It not only didn't work, but gave the error code 332 - which translated means "hard drive failure." So I contacted a company that extracts files from dead hard drives. The rates have gone up. They wanted from $900 to $3,500, depending on how many pictures and files I needed rescuing. After I picked my mouth and stomach off the floor, I chose to spend the day trying to salvage what I could. I emailed all my files to my hotmail.com, live.com and my husband's office computer once again. I also purchased a 64 GB flash drive for $40 and downloaded all my files and 4,000 pictures. I could have downloaded all of these things in about an hour and half if my computer had been functioning properly. I was actually very lucky that I could get my computer to work for two or three minutes at a time, because it was just enough time to email a group of files before crashing again. This went on for a solid 12 hours, much like labor pains, when my computer finally TOTALLY DIED. I'm lucky once again. I have ALL my files.
Not so lucky about my emails though. I had all my son's two years of mission emails saved in one of my emails. They are GONE as are all the pictures he emailed me. I'll call *email company and see if they can hook me up with their back-up system to retrieve them. If not, my son has the pictures on disc, and I have three binders with all of his emails I printed out each week.
I will now be without a computer for TWO WEEKS. Thank goodness my two college sons have computers along with my husband so I can at least get my three articles written and turned in for the * newpaper I write for, but my writing will be on hold.
This is killing me. I write everyday. I am more of a "pantser" than a plotter (Scottsdale writer, Larry Brooks, would scold me for sure.) However for this next two weeks, I will be a model student and plot. I have several story not written for my Seven Scary Stories book - you know, scary campfire like stories. I'll plot the other three out. I'll plot my latest MG fantasy adventure.
I'm putting this in writing . . . I WILL NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN. I have researched and am going to set up a back up plan with *- - - - -.
PLEASE, MY WRITER FRIENDS, BACK UP YOUR FILES AND PICTURES. Don't let this happen to you.
*I was just warned not include commercial messages, so I can't write company names here. Email me if you would like to know.