I am not lost…

March 6, 2017

Heart Attack Waiting to Happen

So I’m writing this at about ten until midnight on March 3rd, because I’m forced to stay up as I stare at my computer, terrified. I have my laptop set up next to my desktop, because I’ve just had one of the most terrifying things happen to me. One of the most terrifying things that can happen to an author.

My external hard drive appears to be crashing, corrupting, and taking my manuscripts with it.

Now, the good thing is that Scrivener, where most of my manuscripts are written, happens to save all of its backups to my desktop’s hard drive and not the external. THANK GOD. So I’ve gone through and saved accurate and up-to-date drafts (as far as I remember) of all of my documents. But on the external, I can’t even open the file folder labeled “books.” Now, it wasn’t even showing up on my desktop, which was the beginning of this problem. But when I hooked it up to my laptop, the folder at least showed up…but when I try and click on it, it gives me an error message and says that it can’t be opened. Great.

So at the moment, I’m letting my laptop become the backup for my music, photos, and other important documents that I can get off of the damned thing. I don’t know that I’ll be able to put everything on there, but I’m going to do all that I can.

I’ve always tried to have multiple backups of things, but there’s a limit that I can come up with. I started relying more on the cloud and Google Drive and whatnot during NaNoWriMo because it was the easiest way to get information from my Mac desktop to my Windows laptop. But I know that it’s not the only thing that I should be doing. I need to look into better ways of backing up information. I need a proper backup of anything. Once I get this particular hard drive backed up, I may reformat it and see if I can use it as the backup drive in general, and use it only for that. Store it somewhere safe and only let it to that. Find a way to backup everything to the cloud. I don’t even know anymore. But I don’t want to live through this again. I could feel all of the lead-up feelings to passing out as I thought that my novels had been lost forever. I’m almost done with SON OF THE REVOLUTION, and in fact just earlier tonight, I started working on a possible book cover for the whole thing. I’m happy with it, and I’m looking forward to finishing up edits and working on getting this book out into the world.

And then of course, the world decided that I needed to be reminded that I might lose everything in an instant.

I’m exhausted. I’m continuing to write this because I need to stay awake just to make sure that everything is transferring okay. The benefit, I suppose, is that I don’t work until 5pm tomorrow–that is, Saturday the 4th. (Which it now is, since it’s past midnight now. Just barely made my streak. Woo!) My phone is dying. My computer is apparently dying. I want to buy a new one, but I’m not confident enough in my own decisions about all this technology without some input from my handy-dandy tech gurus here in the house, but of course, he’s asleep. (A reasonable thing for an adult to be, at midnight.) So I have to wait, and hope that I can wake up in time to take advantage of all my Amazon Prime-ness–because the one I want I can get with same day delivery, which means I could get it tomorrow.

But I don’t really have the finances for this. I want to be able to say “that’s what credit cards are for,” but I hate feeling like that. I’ve already had to do that for other expenses, and I can’t justify anymore of it. I can take money out of my savings for the con next month, but I’d rather not. Then again, if it comes down to “spending money for con” and “working external hard drive to save your novels on,” I think I know which one I’m going to choose.

I’ve never been so happy that my laptop hard drive is as big as it is. I’ve always wondered about why we’d need all these huge hard drives (remember when 500GB was a huge hard drive?) but now I’m looking at this and going “yeah, I think 2TB is going to be what I need if I’m going to use this as a proper backup drive…” and shaking my head at myself. (Looking at my old drive, it only appears to have about 300GB on it. Maybe it won’t back up my whole computer. Ah well. We’ll see.) I’ll find a way to make this work.

It’s really a show of how much I’ve changed and grown since I was younger. I’ve never done well with “catastrophe” situations, whether they actually are catastrophic or just feel like they are. I have major anxiety issues; when I don’t know a solution, or know there isn’t an easy one to be found, I lose my mind. I panic. I have strong memories of sitting in the airport in Philadelphia (may I never fly through there again) in hysterics because my plane had gotten in late and I’d missed my connecting flight to Dublin. I was going to my first residency abroad in grad school, and I wasn’t going to be able to make the first day because the planes were against me. They got me a hotel room, nicely enough (no food, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers) and I sat down with my computer and sobbed on the phone to my parents. Oh yes, did I mention that I didn’t have my cell phone with me? I was going abroad! I wouldn’t have coverage over there! Why would I bring it with me? Oh yes, so that when I got stranded in the States, I could call someone and let them know. Instead, I had to rely on PAY PHONES (yes, seriously) in the airport to call my parents, so they could get in touch with my teachers over in Ireland, and then use Skype or some such to call my parents.

What they reminded me of then, and what I try to remember in all situations like this, is that in that exact moment, there is nothing at all that you can do about the situation. I wasn’t going to be able to wave my magic wand and get a plane to Ireland for that night. Stressing out about it was only going to lose me sleep and give me a headache. Now yes, that’s easier said than done. I slept terribly that night, and then of course found out belatedly that the boarding pass I’d been given on the tarmac was for a seat they hadn’t actually booked me on, so I didn’t have a seat on that plane. (The only reason I found this out was because the new flight had ANOTHER connection, and a very short one, and I was nervous about that.) Since the new connection wasn’t originally part of my plan (“were you supposed to fly through Charlotte?” “no sir” “…well that makes no sense, why would they do that then, this is a terrible idea” “that was my thought, sir”) I was given a NEW new boarding pass. This one for the exact same time as my old flight, just 24hr later.

…and then that flight was delayed for two hours or so.

I got to Dublin a day and a half late, had to take a taxi for the first time in my life, explain how to get to a place I’d never been to before to a taxi driver with a very thick accent, and then figure out my way around Trinity College Dublin all on my own, with literally no direction in regards to where I’m supposed to be or go or do. I was exhausted. I can’t sleep on planes. I made my way to the office, got my lodgings, dropped off my bags, and showed up to my first class, to cries of “Rion!!!” even from people who hadn’t met me yet, because I’d become the story of the program. I’m still not sure how I got through that first day.

But there was nothing else I could be doing. I’d done everything I could, and there I was. (I had a slightly eventful time getting there the second go-round, but then I was with other Carlow students, and wasn’t a day and a half late.)

(As a note, I’ve picked this back up now, after my shift on Sunday. I’m still exhausted, and I still work tomorrow, but blogs don’t wait for anyone.)

I’ve poked around at a few things, and I think I might have found something potentially helpful for my poor hard drive. My laptop is sitting next to me, dutifully plodding away at its work, telling me that in eleven hours, it’ll be done searching. (It’s done this once before, but I didn’t understand the program all that well and it found every file on the drive. Going through 33k+ files was not on my to-do list.) If this doesn’t work, I don’t know where I’m at any more. Keep it in a box somewhere, wait until I have the finances to have a professional look at it. I don’t even know if it’s salvageable, but I want to try everything I can before I give up.

As far as I can tell now (from my position here on Sunday) there’s only one major project I may have lost. I wrote this most recent NaNo novel on Storyist, and from what I can see, the only way that I can access the auto-saved back copies of a document on there is if I open the original file.

But the original file is on my dead disk. Of course.

Luckily, I wrote a good chunk of the novel on the website 4thewords, so I may be able to salvage the majority of it from there. I don’t appear to have the ending, which is irritating, but I remember at least pieces of it. (I’ve been telling myself that since it needed edited badly anyway, this is a blessing in disguise. …Maybe if I tell myself that often enough it will come true.)

The past few days have truly been a test for me. Saturday morning, I woke up late enough in the day that before I got up, my father actually opened my door to make sure that I was still breathing. He knows how much losing all of my work–ALL of my work–would mean to me. Thinking that I might have downed too many pills is not necessarily out of the realm of possibility. I genuinely don’t know what I would have done.

But for now, I have a new hard drive chilling with my desktop, and it’s already hooked up to Time Machine on my Mac, and it’s making backups of everything. Huzzah. And from now on, I’m going to make 23749278402 backups of every file I ever have, and I’m never going to have this happen to me again.


Back up your work. Back it up in numerous places. Don’t trust any one thing.

Don’t let this happen to you. Learn from my mistakes.

Now maybe tonight I can get a decent night’s sleep. Sigh.



  1. I back up Scrivener to Dropbox, which updates all the files to my tablet and desktop. I meant to order a couple of USB drives and figure out how to make Scrivener back up to them, too. Word files back up to One Drive, and I usually have copies of them in Dropbox, too. And now everything is going on a USB drive as well. IN A LEAD SAFE. lol.

    I had Carbonite years ago (2010?). I somehow got a virus that destroyed everything on my external hd and laptop. Got a new laptop and Carbonite started the restore process. At one point my wifi was really slow, and they just stopped the restore, which had said it was at the same point for a month. They said everything was good to go. I was in the middle of packing and believed them and didn’t check. Turned out they didn’t restore ANY of the five years of photos I had on there.

    I now back up to multiple places in the cloud for my photos…

    Hope everything restores okay. 😦

    Comment by Laura — March 6, 2017 @ 10:03 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, one would think I’d learn my lesson from all my time in NaNoWriMo to back my stuff up! But then again, I thought the external was the safe one… *sigh* Ah well. Here’s hoping I can get most to all of it back. Thank you so much for the well wishes! (And I got the notification from ko-fi as well; thank you SO much. ❤ I'll make sure it goes to good use!)

      Comment by R — March 6, 2017 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

      • You’re welcome. 🙂 I remember thinking my external drive was the safe one… and then thinking that Carbonite would solve all my problems… nope. I forgot to add that I have also lost every poem I’ve ever written. I gave handwritten copies to three friends a couple of decades ago, but none of them have the books anymore. My digital and hard copies are gone, too. Soooooo… multiple backups are good. 🙂

        Comment by Laura — March 7, 2017 @ 8:13 am

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