Wednesday, March 4, 2015

When Writers Meltdown...

Last night, I had a meltdown.

In times of crisis, I am usually pretty calm, mostly because of my dad and his, "if you panic, you're no good to yourself or anybody else" philosophy.  Inside, I'm freaking out and mentally flailing in whatever handy mental compartment I have available, but outwardly, I tend to focus on whatever the situation is and how to deal with it.

There are exceptions, however, and last night... was a pretty big exception.  

Over the years, I have learned to backup my writing.  I have an external drive for our desktop, and one for my laptop.  I also have various flash drives.  And I also use Google Drive and iCloud.  Yes, I know that's all redundant, but in light of the hard drive crashes and accidents we've had over the years we've had computers, I've learned that redundancy is my friend.  Because I've lost a lot of writing files in those hard drive crashes, and every single one of them hurt.  In fact, the hard drive crash of our last PC, combined with some comments from people who shall remain unnamed, drove me into a seven year writing block that was acutely painful.  

I need to write.  It's painful not to write.

So, I back up and back up, and that's great, but I admit that sometimes, I'll let things slide a little.  Maybe I'm up late writing, and I'll save what I was working on, but I won't back it up to the flash drive or Google or iCloud, etc, because I just want to go to bed and crash, and I'll do it in the morning.

Last summer, one of our cats spilled one fourth inch of water over my laptop in her never-ending Quest for Fresh Water and killed the hard drive, and the last chapter of the novel I was working on.

One new hard drive and and expanded iCloud later, I've gotten better at remember to back up.

I also have the habit of slipping my flash drives into the front pocket of my jeans for the portability of being able to work wherever I am.  I did that yesterday with the intention of working on getting the first fifty pages of The Pestilential Adventures of Mrs. Osgood Peabody into shape to send to a publisher, but I was having a bad Hashimoto's day and instead curled up on the couch under a blanket to watch "Criminal Minds" on Netflix with my daughter.  Later, I changed out of the jeans and into a pair of fleece pajama pants with big pockets, fulling intending to transfer the flash drives into those big pockets, because I still wanted/needed to write, dammit.

And proceeded to get sidetracked by having to answer a question from one of the kids, thus totally forgetting about the flash drives.  Problem is, it kept niggling at my brain that I urgently needed to do something, but could never fully remember what it was, because succeeding events kept driving back to the back burner of what passes for my mind.  Even after the Husbandly One got home for work, I could never get it to come up to the front of my mind and remember what it was I needed to do.

But it bothered me.

And because last week was pretty rotten autoimmune-wise, THO was working to get ahead on the Laundry Monster.  So he was gathering up random clothes to throw in the washer.  I reminded him that the Impertinent Son needed his running tights washed because he has a track meet on Thursday, and went to grab them while he picked through my stuff for things to wash.

He grabbed my jeans.

I noticed and thought, "Wait," but... nope.  Nothing.  

It wasn't until later when I thought, Okay, so I won't get any work done on it tonight, but I should probably get the flash drive and back Mrs. Peabody up to Google Drive... and that was when it hit me.

"Did you wash the jeans I was wearing today?" I asked THO breathlessly.

He looked up from his book.  "Yeah.  I washed both pair that I found on your basket.  Why?"

I didn't answer, I just ran for the laundry room, stopped the washer and opened it and started digging.  And found one of the flash drives almost under the agitator at the bottom of the laundry tub.

But not the Mrs. Peabody drive.

I pulled every single item of clothing out of that washing machine, dripping wet, and shook them out, felt in every pocket, every sleeve, every leg, every arm, every single nook and cranny... and no drive. I felt around under every side of that agitator in the washing machine.  And no drive.

I went back to the living room where I'd been sitting, on the off chance it might have fallen out of my pocket, and I was fighting back tears as I pulled the couch cushions off.  And no drive.

My son noticed and asked what was going on.  And by this time, I wasn't fighting back the tears any more, because it was sinking in that the drive had probably gone down the drain.  I filled him in on what had happened, and he said, "Don't worry, Mom, I'll get Cailly and we'll help you look for it.  It's probably not anywhere near the washing machine."

I nodded and popped the drive I'd found into a small container with rice to help dry it out.  And went back into the bedroom to look in the clothes basket and around the floor, just in case.  And felt progressively worse and worse and worse, and then... I completely lost it.

All that work.  Fighting through writer's block, and uncertainty, and finally getting my writing groove back.  Working on a piece that was getting positive feedback.  And it was gone.

It felt like the universe was trying to tell me something.  Stop.  Quit trying.  You're never going to get anywhere.  You're never going to succeed.  Look at how old you are.  It's never going to happen, so you should just give up while you can.  Give up, grow up, just stop.

In the meantime, the Husbandly One was disconnecting the washing machine drain hose to see if the drive had possibly gone down and doing everything he could to help.  The kids were alternately looking everywhere they knew I had been, and coming in to comfort me as I sat there, a completely wet mess.  

I gave up.  And it was as we were straightening the covers on the bed that I spotted something familiar on the quilt.

The missing flash drive.

After nearly suffocating THO with a tearful hug, then going to share the good news with the kids, you bet your effin' BIPPY I went and backed up everything on that drive to Google Drive and iCloud!!!