An Ode to Memory

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             With clicking claws
             On sauntering paws,
             The dragon comes a snorken

             His fetid breath
             Will scare you half to death,
             When the dragon comes a hunten . . .

I used to be a happier person. I made up the poem above and used to sing it to my older Cairn terrier, known lovingly as ‘Dragon’ (yes, I sang to small furry animals. I blame it on too much Disney as a child). There are quite a few verses and I meant to write them down, but then we lost him just before Yule in 2011. I’m not ready to get back to it quite yet.

My Dragon hunting frogs in better days

My Dragon hunting frogs in better days

I’ve been fairly ambivalent about the whole Holiday season thing for awhile. After losing a member of the family that was around longer than my marriage and add to that some really nasty crap going down at work, I thought I couldn’t get any lower this year. Then I lost 10 chapters to Rule of Fire, the sequel to my currently published epic fantasy novel Born of Water.

It was an update gone wrong on my laptop where even the backup done before hand was corrupted. My husband tried everything to restore what had been lost, but all of my writing had gone to electronic Nirvana. In one second, I went from being halfway done at Chapter 15 to only having most of Chapter 4 with a bit of 5 from an email copy I’d send to myself in August.

Oddly, I didn’t freak out. I did think it was going to be what finally pushed me over the edge though! I had a VERY large glass of wine and went to sleep.

The next day I checked to make sure I hadn’t gone down the wrong rabbit hole somewhere and been trapped in a horrible parallel universe. Nope, still gone. Drats! I knew I only had myself to blame. I mean, I know better. If you have something valuable, you NEVER keep only one copy of it. Especially something as easily copyable as an electronic file. I’d thought in the days leading up to the electronic massacre that I really should send myself another email copy for safe keeping. Did I? No . . . .

So that morning after my moment of regret, I sat down (next to the fire with some tea and cookies) and got back to work – at Chapter 4. Surprisingly, the thing that I thought would by my anchor to the depths of deep darkness turned out to kick start the rise up. It was a bubble, not a boulder.

I made an outline of the chapters I’d lost and just jumped back in without the driving desire to finish it ASAP. Frankly, I admitted to myself that I’d pushed through more than a few chapters and had been hoping the first (few) edit(s) would transform them from crap to brilliant. Writing ’round 2′, I knew what was going to happen, could even remember a lot of what was now gone, and found myself really fleshing out the skeleton I’d written the first time. I actually found myself enjoying the experience far more than having fits of “I already freaken wrote this once. Why do I have to do it again?” (Which did happen, I admit, but I kept them to myself).

Does this work for e-files too?

Does this work for e-files too?

I initially figured that my hope to have the sequel published this spring was shot. But now I’d nearly refinished Chapter 10 on New Year’s Day and hope to be closing in on the last 4 lost chapters by early next week (especially if the frequent heavy snowstorms can continue for Maine . . . please?). I think considering the improvement of the writing, I’ll not have lost any net time as I’ll be saving some on the editing side. Go figure. Life is weird.

(NOTE: This writing speed is only possible due to having already written the chapters previously so I know what will happen and by ignoring all family members while eating and drinking as little as possible. The numerous days off so that work didn’t interrupt helped too! I’ve let several other projects slide, but made a promise that once I hit Chapter 15, I’d start to spread out my time.)

I’ve read so many tales of writers of the past losing manuscripts to fire, carelessness, the postal service . . . and been amazed they could forge ahead afterwards. I see now it is possible. Memory is amazing. The first thing I said to my husband when he told me my writing was gone was “No it isn’t. It is still in my head.” And it is. So is the poem about my Dragon along with the memories that inspire each verse. It is nice to know that they will still be there when I’m ready to write them down, even if they too come out a little altered.

So losing 10 chapters didn’t prove to drive me any further insane than current estimates. I think it actually improved my writing and perhaps my outlook. I’m still having a ton of fun writing (see mention of insanity in first sentence). Though I can’t say it was beneficial enough for me to contemplate accidentally recreating the event using chapters 15 to 30. Actually, I am now strict about making back-ups – at least three!

Autumn is the author of the epic fantasy novel Born of Water and its Novel Companion and most recently the compilation of adventure travel stories Danger Peligros! All are available at Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers of e-novels.

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