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Does Why Matter?

There is no good news regarding my data. The book is still on the hard drive (we hope), but has not yet been recovered. My brother could not recover the data, even with the help of a Mac expert at work.

They have one or two other ideas, but I’m not holding my breath. Chances are that Enda won’t be able to do much, either. So I am bracing myself for an expedition to Ontrack Data Recovery – and the attendant expense such a trip would cost.

While that’s the practical side of things, I have taken the loss of my work very hard on another level. I wondered if it might be a sign from God that I’m not meant to write. That, while I might think I’m pretty good at stringing a sentence together, really I’m no great shakes. This was compounded by the fact that, yesterday, I wrote a post for my other blog and, somehow, lost 300 words. I rewrote them. I wasn’t as happy with the re-rewrite as I had been with the original. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d already posted the shortlink to the blog update on Twitter, I wouldn’t have bothered to rewrite at all.

I thought about just giving up writing. I thought that if God is against me and I lose years of work in a flash (literally), then what is the point in continuing to write? I mean, I can’t do it on my own. At some point – after the hard work is done – the stars need to be aligned. The agent you contact needs to be in a good mood and like what you’ve written. The publisher they approach needs to love your work and you need to be bringing it to market at just the right time. While so much of writing is exactly that – writing – in some ways, that’s the easy bit. The hard work – the blood, sweat and tears – will only result in publication if other things which are outside your control happen. In other words, you need a certain amount of luck.

Seeing as how Lady Luck and I have never been the best of friends, I thought this latest happening – losing my book – was a huge sign from God that I should just give up. So I did. I didn’t write for about a week. That is to say, I didn’t put any words down on paper. But I couldn’t stop the words dancing and tumbling around in my head. I couldn’t stop my opinions forming in my head. I couldn’t stop creating and crafting properly-constructed paragraphs in my head. I couldn’t stop.

Maybe I couldn’t stop because I’m not meant to stop. Maybe the whole book losing episode was just a way to tell me to back up rather than a way to tell me that I shouldn’t write. Maybe now is not the right time for my book to go to market. Maybe later will be a better time. Maybe the lesson is not in what happened, but in my reaction to it.

Maybe this has happened so that I could find out how I felt about my book and about publishing it. Maybe this has happened so that, on the bumpy road to publication, I will remember this and remember how much it meant to me and keep going.

The only other time I felt like this was when my ex-husband was threatening to kidnap my daughter. I found out by accident and I was terrified. At the same time, it brought sharply into focus for me what was important to me – my children. Everything else was gravy. I remember lying in bed with an arm around each sleeping child and thinking ‘this is what matters’. Money, work, a nice house, a decent job – none of that mattered. Only my babies did.

There are hundreds of files on my hard drive – short stories, my thesis, pictures of my children, about ten thousand words of a novel, notes made for future work, letters, emails etc. etc. etc. – yet, not one of those items is causing me grief. I would like to get them back, but if I don’t, I don’t, it’s no big deal. My memoir is a big deal. It’s a very big deal. When I think of the hard drive and what’s on it, the only thing that I think of is my book.

As you can tell, I am still living with the conviction that I will see my work again. I cannot bear the thought that it is gone. I cannot bear the thought of all that work having been for nothing. I cannot bear the thought of sitting down and re-writing it. In fact, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t.

I am trying to be philosophical about this experience, but it’s not always easy. The only thing that will make it all right is the recovery of my work. I’m holding out for that.

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2 thoughts on “Does Why Matter?

  1. Maya says:

    I really don’t believe that god is ever against anyone. It’s not part of the creative experience of god. I really think things like this happen for exactly the reasons you outline here. You must always back up your data, save it on an external disk etc. Since paper was invented, people have been losing stuff they wrote. That’s why duplicates were made, why carbon paper was invented, why external drives and flash disks were invented. Etc. I really, really hope you get your writing back. My question though is, why is it so impossible to re-write what you have lost? It’s not the whole memoir. I know re-writing is not what anyone wants to do but, like I told you about Maxine Hong Kingston, who lost her manuscript in the Oakland Hills Firestorm in 91 and re-wrote the whole thing, maybe the re-write of the parts lost might bring new insights and memories that were not in the first part.

    Never, ever think you shouldn’t write. You are a very, very good writer and have a lot to tell. Please, please don’t give it up. I will cross all my fingers, toes, eyes etc that you get it all back. But, if you don’t, maybe wait a while and then get back to re-writing the lost part.

  2. I have had similar computer problems. Losing work..and now without my home computer as the computer doctors try to cure it of whatever virus is attacking it. I hope you get your memoir back.

    If ideas are still bouncing around in your head, then you are meant to write. Hold onto that. The why does not matter. The feeling of defeat needs to be beaten back. Take up your pen and write. Keep writing. Don’t let the gremlins get the better of you.

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