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View Full Version : What would you do if your Most Precious Manuscript vanished



Matera the Mad
08-20-2008, 04:40 AM
-- I mean totally, without a trace, no backups, not even a scribbled note, not even your MC's name scrawled in a public toilet, a complete and utter goneness, NOTHING! :cry:

This was inspired by thoughts about my epic Borrowers fan-fic, Borrowed Time. It has been withdrawn from the Web, but I was contacted recently by someone who was looking for it. I packaged it for her, uploaded and sent a link, and then informed my #1 beta because she gets a kick out of reading my old stuff.

So I was thinking about BT's odd history. I had to wait until I had a computer of my own to start writing it, because it involves computers, and the first version went poof in my first major upgrade. Irony. I went on to produce a huge, lovable monster with quirky crossover aspects, may the ghost of Mary Norton forgive me. It would certainly have been different if the original beginning had not vanished. It would probably not have been as good (not that BT is a polished work, but...) if I had not written two other novel-length works before starting it over.

It was good experience, anyway, both the loss and the writing. Ever since that time I have not kept anything valuable in My fscking Documents. And. I. back. up. The MC of Borrowed Time, the "world's smallest hacker", would have told me to ;)

mscelina
08-20-2008, 04:46 AM
Rewrite it. It would be much better the second time anyway.

WildScribe
08-20-2008, 04:48 AM
Gosh... give up? Die?

Then start over... mebbe...

Matera the Mad
08-20-2008, 04:52 AM
Sorry 'bout the poll lag -- I had a couple of extra characters in a question *rolls eyes*

Judg
08-20-2008, 04:55 AM
I have a manuscript that is locked on a dysfunctional hard drive full of viruses. Two or three actually.

Fortunately, they were only a few chapters each and I've decided to let them die. Although one of them keeps niggling at my brain, so I might actually try the rewrite idea some day. I don't think I'll bother trying to retrieve the original. I thought the first chapter was pretty brilliant at the time, but I would be scared stiff to see it now. Better I rewrite it.

As for the current WIP, it is on the hard drive of both my desktop and my laptop, as well as the portable media I use to transport it from one to the other. Plus on Google documents. I think that will about do it. Oh, and I occasionally email myself a copy from one email address to another when I'm feeling particularly paranoid.

I figure it would take all-out nuclear war to completely destroy it, at which point it wouldn't much matter. :D

WendyNYC
08-20-2008, 04:58 AM
Blame everyone! It's YOUR fault for even suggesting it.

I'm kidding. I guess, after taping up my wrists, I'd start over.

JLCwrites
08-20-2008, 05:06 AM
I think I would start over, but I would probably wait a year. That way it would feel less like a re-write and I might even have a different perspective on the same story. During the wait time, I would write something new and completely different. (Oh.. and I would have a spinach salad with dried cranberries and Asian dressing.)

Clair Dickson
08-20-2008, 05:15 AM
Start over. But it would be hard to get past that initial "ARE YOU F!ING! Kidding me?" screams and such. Like the 2k I'd lost when the demons-spawn computer at school corrupted my thumb drive this summer. 2k's not a lot, but it was enough to bring me to my knees for a while.

Woodsie
08-20-2008, 05:23 AM
I don't think I could do it better the second time. It's like trying to recount emotions and explain them rather than writing them as you feel them. I'd still try, though, after I climbed out of the toilet.

Shweta
08-20-2008, 05:30 AM
I have trouble imagining "no backup" short of "California slides into the ocean", at which point the answer would be "tread water".

Actually even then, I think people on a couple other continents have copies :D

I think if my only ever copy of a precious MS disappeared, I'd whine a lot and start something else. But this sort of thing is exactly why I have a lot of backups.

C.bronco
08-20-2008, 05:40 AM
Rewrite it. It would be much better the second time anyway.Me too.



But I like spinach.

rosepddle
08-20-2008, 05:47 AM
Not too long ago, I broke my flash drive while in my laptop. I had just made a crap load of edits on my ms and had not yet saved it. I FLIPPED! I think I stood in the middle of my living room staring at my laptop like it would suddely shout, "jus' playin'". I had a very recent version on my computer at work and a very old version on my hard drive at home...I got dressed on a Saturday evening and went to my job to email it to myself and then bought a new flash drive...only after I tried to tape the broken one back together...nevertheless, I back up everything now! So I guess you know my answer would be CRY!!! *The horror--the horror!*

regdog
08-20-2008, 06:00 AM
happened to me once, but I didn't vote because my response wasn't there. I smacked the shit out of my computer twice. :Hammer:

The next day I started all over again so I guess I can vote for that answer, but you really should have a computer smack option.

SPMiller
08-20-2008, 06:20 AM
I have a copy on a flash drive, a copy on the Google e-mail database servers, a copy on my computer's hard drive, a copy on the router's hard drive, and a copy on the Yahoo e-mail database servers. All are recent (days old, tops).

The only way I could possibly lose my manuscript is if we had nuclear war, in which case I'd no doubt have more important things to worry about.

Shadow_Ferret
08-20-2008, 06:21 AM
I put down none of the above since slash my wrists wasn't an option.

Soccer Mom
08-20-2008, 06:24 AM
I've lost stuff before. I would rewrite it (and in a hurry too because agents are reading partials and might want fulls ;) )

SPMiller
08-20-2008, 06:29 AM
I don't know where I saw this, but as writers our most precious commodity isn't necessarily what we've written, but rather our ability to produce quality writing.

That said, who wants to rewrite an entire manuscript? Back that shit up, as they say...

Shadow_Ferret
08-20-2008, 06:31 AM
but rather our ability to produce quality writing.

Now that's really depressing.

SPMiller
08-20-2008, 06:31 AM
Now that's really depressing.Maybe for those of us who haven't learned to do so ;)

Shadow_Ferret
08-20-2008, 06:32 AM
Maybe for those of us who haven't learned to do so ;)
Or lack the ability. :(

SPMiller
08-20-2008, 06:35 AM
4 realz?

Sorry, didn't know it was a sore spot. Here you go, Mister Ferret :kiss:

Neurotic
08-20-2008, 06:58 AM
I've got a few backups, enough that the kind of disaster it'd take to wipe out all of them would leave me with bigger fish to fry. In the unlikely even I lost them *and* had time to worry about it, I'd have a little girly cry, then I'd start over. The writing, not the girly cry. The story all started out existing only in my head anyway. Just a matter of hauling it all back out again. :)

Danger Jane
08-20-2008, 07:14 AM
Start writing.

Priene
08-20-2008, 09:28 AM
What would you do if your Most Precious Manuscript vanished

That would mean I've lost my laptop, USB stick and external hard drive simultaneously. I'm guessing I'd sit in the burnt-out shell of my house and cry.

katiemac
08-20-2008, 09:33 AM
Hey, where's Orlando? 'Cause I'd probably run to him for comfort first. Rum and chocolate second.

virtue_summer
08-20-2008, 09:42 AM
Rewrite. I know this one because it happened to me a long time ago when I wrote my first novel. My computer completely gave up on me and although a computer guy we knew was able to salvage about fifty pages from the hard drive (not sure how), the rest of the manuscript was gone so I had to start over. I've also had this happen to chapters and a few short stories over the years. Anything I really cared about was rewritten, and yes sometimes I do think it was better. Was it exactly the same? No. But it still held the same spirit and that was what was important. Of course now I backup everything religiously to the harddrive, my Dana, on hardcopy, and on disc. Rewriting isn't the worst thing in the world, though, and so I'd do it again if I had to, be it five pages or five hundred if the story was really important to me.

NykeYoung
08-20-2008, 11:03 AM
I'd lose it, seriously.

But hey, thanks for reminding me to make a back-up.

Willowmound
08-20-2008, 12:08 PM
I have unlosable backups.

Deccydiva
08-20-2008, 12:14 PM
Backups must be in a different place, either electronically or physically. Mine is saved to 2 DVDs, one lives in the car and the other in the house so if either goes up in flames, I have the other.

Stormhawk
08-20-2008, 12:19 PM
The version of MF that I uploaded is about the 15th version of the story, the rewrite I'm doing for print is the 16th.

Between the 14th and 15th, I changed from cyberpunk to urban fantasy, added several characters, removed a major one, changed the nature of several relationships, and how the MC gets involved.

It wouldn't phase me.

But, considering that it would take...my webserver imploding, my two computers dying, my flatemate computer's dying and possibly several CDs...I think I'm safe.

Shar-Jan
08-20-2008, 01:22 PM
If I lost all 3 backups of it, I'd assume God was trying to tell me something.

Robert Toy
08-20-2008, 01:38 PM
Another Spinach fan...just words folks.

ETA: My reasoning? If it was so damn good, it would be published - hence no problem retrieving a copy.

Ageless Stranger
08-20-2008, 01:46 PM
I actually did this once. I hadn't slept properly and came up with a brilliant idea for short story/flash fiction and when I'd finished it, I pressed closed and the standard little message came up saying; would you like to save changes to untitled document?

I, in my weary state, pressed no.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I really did like that story but I've never been able to write it again. With any other story though, I whine for a little while then dive back into it. Just that one story will always haunt me.

HeronW
08-20-2008, 03:15 PM
After being released from Bedlam, dealing with my chocolate addiction, (like now) and learning to type with stubs from chewing my fingernails to the elbows, I'd try to do it again.

JimmyB27
08-20-2008, 04:10 PM
I have all of my manuscripts saved on a flash drive which I have had surgically implanted into my left ventricle. If I lose that, I'll be dead anyway.

Okay, that was a lie. In reality, I don't even have a finished manuscript to lose.
Just recently, I had a laptop stolen. I was already very close to hunting the perpetrator to the ends of the earth; if it had had the only copy of a finished novel on it, their head would be atop a pole somewhere by now.

JimmyB27
08-20-2008, 04:11 PM
Start over. Who cares. It's only words. We're gonna die, people. Who cares? My most precious possession is life...the rest is insignificant. I enjoy writing...I'm mad about it. I have many completed manuscripts and I have lost or thrown away many completed manuscripts. They are just words...dust in the wind.

I picked spinach because it is just as irrelevant as anything else...
Only words? Blasphemer!

Jesus, who let this joker in here?

BenPanced
08-20-2008, 07:11 PM
It's everybody else's fault, really. They didn't remind you to make a back-up copy.

Mr Flibble
08-20-2008, 07:28 PM
I did in fact have this problem. My PC is set up to save to the server whenever I turn it off. When I fried my hard drive it transpired taht actually, it hadn't been backing up. For six months. I had a three step plan to get me through it

1 - panic, scream, get drunk
2 - e-mail one of betas and ask if she still has the original copy, pretty please, maybe still lurking in her inbox?
3 - moan at the old man until he agrees to spend an entire day retrieving data from the hard drive. Considering you could actually smell where it had burnt this seemed unlikely.

1 made me feel better briefly. 2 and 3 worked.

I now have a flash drive.

tehuti88
08-20-2008, 07:44 PM
-- I mean totally, without a trace, no backups, not even a scribbled note, not even your MC's name scrawled in a public toilet, a complete and utter goneness, NOTHING!

Oh my God! I don't even want to think about it!! :cry:

Seriously. I think I'd rather just be dead. For me it's not just a story, it's...I don't know. Something I created, brought to life, a living thing that changed me. One of the very few reasons I have to exist. I throw fits when I lose a half hour's worth of work...I can't even imagine what I'd do in this case. Not even as a hypothetical.

Phaeal
08-20-2008, 09:53 PM
Considering how many back-ups and web-cached copies I make, it would be a world-class catastrophe that destroyed all of them, and I guess a world-class catastrophe would take out the publishers, too.

Oh well.

I'd have to start writing on birch bark or the walls of the few deep tunnels that had survived.

Ashleigh-Bridie
08-21-2008, 06:29 AM
I would have to be bribed out of a darkened room listening to 'woe is me music' with alot of alcohol if this happened to me...

Seriously though, leave it a while and if the idea is still with you re-write it. Think of it as editing from scratch!

Matera the Mad
08-21-2008, 06:39 AM
I'm glad some people like spinach... :D

Fenika
08-21-2008, 08:39 AM
Only baby spinach!

C.M. Daniels
08-21-2008, 09:37 PM
That happened to me once. After I was done being sick over it, I started over.

Alpha Echo
08-21-2008, 09:55 PM
I'd probably cry first. I did cry when I thought I'd lost my first complete MS ever. Thankfully, hubby recovered it.

But yeah, I'd cry first. Probably pause and not write or do anything for a few days. Then dive back in and pray it turned out better the second time!