What Just Happened? When Writers Lose Their Work

I suppose that starting my writing blog off with a very personal story would be the best way to go. After all, it’s not every day that something like this happens.

Autumn rolled in with its usual luster (and a bit of bluster). I kept a spattering of belongings in a storage unit, not thinking much about safety, especially with regard to flooding. One day, while in a hurry to grab something, I left the lid off one rubber bin that held a computer, speakers, an assortment of ‘immediate need items’ (things I could require at any time), and my journals.

Some of these journals went back 20 years and two of them were novels that were 50 percent and 35 percent completed. Written by hand.

I decided about 5 years ago to begin working on a few ideas by writing these novels by hand. It slows my thought process down and was an experiment to determine if my rapid typing tempo was hampering the quality of my words (it wasn’t).

I enjoyed the more intimate, deliberate process, though, and was excited to complete these, let them rest for some time, and then transfer them to typed text. Sadly, one day after a heavy rainstorm, as I stopped in to grab something (immediate need items) I raised the roll-up door and gaped at the large bin filled with water. Paper floated at the top and my heart sank.
By the time the water poured out the damage I assessed was total. The computer: gone. The speakers: shot. The journals: a muddy mess of blue and black smudges on every page.

I couldn’t even estimate the number of hours that were poured into those journals. Some were notes, others were ideas … countless ideas. It was heartbreaking, but something inside told me, ‘Start over.’

I had the ideas in my head, I knew the general direction of the stories, so just get my notes down somewhere else as soon as possible and begin the journey again.

This, my friend, is what it’s all about: the journey. I could have folded within myself and been dejected, mourning over those years and years of lost work, but when you get down to it, they were just part of the process.
Writers write. It’s what we do; it’s what we need to do. In order to grow, learn, and improve, we need to write a lot. Some of it will squeeze the breath from our body. Some of it will make us cringe. Either way, it’s all a learning process.

If something’s worth doing once, it’s worth doing again. I’m not tempting fate again, but I still write in journals, still have those two novels alive and well, and I’m sure that scene (in some variation) will make it into one of my stories in the future.

Every event in our lives is an experience. Have you lost work before? A crashed computer? Lost journal? Deleted files? I’d love to find out your story.