NanoWriMo, The Real Story (or Nano, Week 2)

I have a confession to make.  Last week wasn’t quite as rosy as I made it out to be.

I honestly wasn’t out to fool anyone, but as it turned out, I forgot about the problem until after my post was complete.  You’re probably thinking that the problem wasn’t anything much.  Maybe I forgot to call my mom, or I missed a day of writing for Nanowrimo.

As it turns out, while it’s not anything dire, it is something that should be at the front of my mind right now.  You see, my laptop went back into the shop last week.  Yup, once again, that most critical of tools is on the fritz for the second time in three months.

Pretty good timing, don’t you think?

If you recall back to an earlier, pre-Nanowrimo post, I was putting some contingency plans in place for the possibility of problems.  I had an extra keyboard and mouse on stand-by and I was planning to keep multiple copies of my story.

I didn’t actually expect the laptop to go down completely, but I had my wife’s trusty desktop computer as a hot spare if I really needed it.  Turns out, I did and I do.

There were a couple anxious moments when I discovered that my laptop wasn’t working properly.  The machine kept freezing up; I was able to diagnose the problem to being related to the laptop’s USB ports.

When I started troubleshooting the problem further, it looked like maybe a faulty external hard drive was the problem and that was a BIG problem.  Why, you might ask?  Simply put, it had the most recent version of my Nano story on it.  If the drive was toast, I still would have an older backup (see the multiple versions backup plan).  The problem there was I just had my single best writing day to date; I would have lost about 5,000 words of prose that I couldn’t bear to see gone.

I almost hung up my Nano hat for the year.  Almost, that is, until I realized through additional testing that the hard drive was fine but the computer was toast.

Now do you see why I have a hard time believing that I forgot to mention it in my last post?  Yeah, it escapes me too.

I can claim that I was very tied up with work (true) and that I had a number of personal projects on the go at home (also true).  I still don’t know how I forgot.  Considering what I’m focused on achieving this month, it is a big problem.  Maybe I was hoping that if I ignored the problem, it would go away.

It hasn’t, in case you’re wondering.

I’ve been able to keep up a good writing pace despite the problem, but it has been more painful than it needs to be.  I’m still averaging about 2,500 words per day and the story is going well.  Still, I just can’t shake the realization that I was able to forget about the laptop crash.

The lesson I should have sitting in the front of my mind is the one about backups and version control.  I’m always very conscientious about version control, but not having multiple versions of the story (and even worse, not thinking about it after almost being bitten) worries me.

I think I’m getting too complacent in the measures I’ve put in place.  I have a shared drive on my home network but what if it goes?  I’m thinking a backup to CD or DVD is definitely in order.  Hard copies might be in order too.

I was able to survive a bad crash quite a while ago.  I had burned all my writing to CD and I had the files on two external hard drives and a USB Flash drive.  What I didn’t have was all my email backed up.

After the crash I celebrated my foresight in backing up my writing… and I cursed myself for all the lost email.  Some of it was irreplaceable.  For example, my email from Dave Duncan which I had carefully stored away is gone.  So are some of my communications with publishers and other writers.

Now they only live in my mind.

Enough talking about the issue, it’s time to backup.  And might I suggest you do a little of it yourself?


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