Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When You Lose Your Story!

By Jill Williamson

This was not what I'd planned to write about this morning...

I'm having a hard few weeks, that's for certain. Ever been there? Of course you have! We all have.

I know better than to save my documents. And I've lost them before. But I guess I've gotten too cozy with the auto-recovery feature in MS Word. Yesterday I worked so hard on my rewrite. I put in a good ten hours on two tough chapters and had written a lovely page toward a third chapter when Word decided to restart. I panicked, of course. I thought, "Oh no! My cute little new scene for that new chapter. I bet it's gone!"

More than that was gone, my friends. My whole day was gone.

Sadness.

So what do you do? I admit, I cried. I was devastated. I made my poor husband get out of bed and come and pay attention to my loss. This story had been killing me as it was, and I'd been so proud of the work I did yesterday. So, I tried to find a method to recover it. I Googled every-which-way, looking for some secret miracle that would allow me to copy and paste the magical missing text.

Alas, I have not been successful.

So, like Jo March after Amy burned her beloved manuscript, I will start again. And as I work through the scene a second time, my memory will sprout little bits of don't forgets. "Jill! This is where you mentioned that sculpture!" And, "Don't forget the part when he talked to that guy!"

Well, here's hoping that a good night's sleep has given my brain the fuel to enact one major do over.

If you've lost something you worked very hard on, I feel your pain. How about it, writers? Ever lost some beloved pages to the belly of the ravenous computer?

93 comments:

  1. I know exactly what you mean Jill, it's terrible! It has happened to me once or twice, when you go rewrite what ever you lost it will never be the same. It's really sad and I know what you're going through but think of it as an oportunity, maybe it will end up even better after it's redone. I wish you luck. :)

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  2. Stupid hungry computers! :( I haven't had this happen with a book yet, but I DID have it happen last semester before a class started. I rewrote that paper SO FAST. Fortunately, it got turned in. :) I right now have two saved copies of my WIP--one in Word, and the other in another writing program. This post makes me want to update the flash drive version, which only has about 1/3 of the story.
    Out of curiosity, what were/are you writing? A fantasy? Scifi?

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    1. Yes, go save and back up everything right now! LOL

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  3. Oh no, Jill! That's heartbreaking.

    I've had a similar experience too, where I thought I had completely lost my WIP. My heart started pounding, raw panic started to sink in. My hands were shaking from shock and frustration. My hair definitely had a tough day for how many times I ran my fingers through it. ;-)

    I'll be praying that you're not only supplied with the words that you were supposed to write, but with ones you would have never thought of before if you hadn't lost those chapters. God never gives us more than we can bear! :)

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    1. Thanks, Clare. I really appreciate that! :-)

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  4. We had in our house The Week When the Computers Rebelled. My laptop harddrive died. Our desktop died. AND our external backup harddrive went kaput. It's funny five years later, but at the time I was at my wit's end. I was working on a rewrite of a book and ended up writing the first five chapters THREE times thanks to that week. I had it all but memorized by the time we got our computers figured out. I feel your pain!!

    And now we use Carbonite as well as our external drive's automatic backups. Must say, it's saved my rear a time or two!

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    1. WOW. That is a LOT of re-writing all over again. That's terrible!

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    2. Amanda! You joined Go Teen Writers? *smiles* And, agreed, that IS a lot of rewrites! I'd be using multiple backups after that, myself!

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    3. Lol yes, Kelsey. :D

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    4. Roseanna... I would have been SO GROUCHY! GAH!

      See? Every time you think life is bad, it could always be worse!

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  5. Just a week or so ago, my computer was hit with some virus-like thing. I thought I'd lost EVERYTHING. Everything as in EVERYTHING I HAD EVER WRITTEN. However, through the magical properties of my mother and the blessing of God we got it back!

    I am now trying to back-up files religiously......

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    1. Oh, wow! So glad you got it all back! I had a flash drive die once, and that was pretty awful. Those things can go at any minute.

      *goes to back up flash drive right now*

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  6. I had about three whole chapters on my laptop when I dropped it off the top bunk at my beach house :( As you can imagine, I not only lost my MS but everything on that computer cause it broke!

    Luckily my dad's friend is some tech wiz and got it all back, but I wrote the rest of that book by hand.
    Now I save everything on two hardrives, a USB and some on Google Docs!

    I've learnt my lesson! :D

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    1. Tech wizards are my heroes. I'm trying to train my son to become one. Here's hopping! LOL

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  7. I've never had it happen with my manuscripts, thank goodness, but it has happened a few times with school projects and deleted EVERYTHING. Which was horrible because I'd spent a terribly long time working on them and now I had to do it all over. Doesn't work that well when you still have a ton of other school work to do. I completely feel your pain! You're proud of your work, but it's gone now and you have to start from scratch, trying to remember how you did it before. Not fun. Which reminds me that I really ought to back up some of my chapters. . .

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  8. Oh, no! I've lost things due to my laptop spazzing, and it's definitely no fun! Now, I write on Google Docs (not only does it save things automatically, but I can also access it from any computer), then save a copy to Microsoft word and my flash drive. Good luck on your do-over!

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    1. I don't think I can do edits on Google Docs since the Word file my editor sends me has Track Changes in it... Hmmm.

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  9. I think I save my document every five words. Whenever I lost school papers my parents would say, "Did you save it?" "No." "Well then that's your problem, but I have to see it."
    Being home schooled doesn't give you any grace : (

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    1. LOL Same here, Alyson. My friends think that because I am homeschooled, my parents don't actually have to have the work printed out so long as they saw me doing it. As if...

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    2. LOL! Alyson, that's funny. I'm glad you've been well trained. *grin*

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  10. I usually write all my stories in a tablet first, so if I have the misfortune of word restarting (it always does that when I try to paste something) or even worse, my sisters close it without saving it, then I have the rough original still. But I hate it when that happens. It drives me crazy.

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    1. My siblings did that ALL THE TIME. They never got in trouble for it and I never could understand why. Then, I bought my own laptop. Problem solved : )

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    2. What drives me nuts is I'm always very careful to save their stuff, but mine just gets clicked away. I've contemplated getting my own laptop, but I just spent a whole boatload of money on a new guitar, so it is going to have to wait.

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    3. I feel your pain, MaddieJ. :)

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    4. Bad siblings! I'd have a heart attack if my kids got near "the computer."

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  11. I feel for your loss!

    Last Script Frenzy, I wrote a wonderful page in my script, and then the program crashed and I had lost everything! However, when I went back I was able to write the exact same amount of lines in the scene. I still decided to turn on Auto-Save. ;-D

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    1. Yes, auto save can be a dear friend. It is great how the memory works though. I kept remembering little things today. I think I got most of it, but it's missing the smoothness I had originally. It'll get there... eventually!

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  12. Yes, several times. I've lost whole entire manuscripts. And one time I believe I lost it for good. But, the second it happened to me,my dad, who's a computer genius was able to recover it for me. I'm so sorry for your loss!

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    1. Must. Keep. Training. Son. To. Be. Computer. Genuis!
      LOL
      Thanks, Gabrielle!

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  13. I blogged about this a week ago :P When I was a little I used to use the family computer to write books, and I had a series going on that I LOVED - it was about a little girl who was paralyzed but learning how to ride and compete on horseback - but when we moved me off the computer and onto a laptop, ALL of my files with my writing, my beloved childhood books, didn't make it onto the laptop and were destroyed with the computer :( I really miss those stories!

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    1. How sad!! :( I lost all my stories that I wrote when I was little in a move...but they were on paper.

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    2. aw, I have all of mine that I wrote on paper ;) a little collection of half-used notebooks!

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    3. Yes! Me too. I still use mine. It has the stories and poems I loved at the time . . . Such as a story about a family of mice who live in a cantaloupe. No joke. It makes me feel great about my current writing now, though. In my defense, I did start that when I was ten . . .

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    4. Aww, Sarah! That is sad! I'm sorry for your loss! May those stories come back to you one by one so you can write them down in a new way!

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  14. Arg, that's awful! Sorry for your loss.

    Thankfully, I've never lost a sizable chunk of writing (as far as I remember), but I have lost small amounts during word wars-- quite annoying.

    My older sister nearly lost her WIP *twice*. Both times it was recovered, though.

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    1. Thanks, L.D. Your poor sister! I'm glad it was able to be recovered!

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  15. That's awful! I hope it comes out even better the second time though!

    I got a virus once that deleted ALL my files. We could have recovered them, but it was too expensive, so we didn't, and I lost a good half of my writing and plotting. Luckily, there wasn't too much, and the other half of my stuff was saved to Google Docs, which I find to be a wonderful tool. It's not great for formatting, so I'd definitely use word if I was at the stage of editing a manuscript, but in terms of saving work it's a jem, since it saves everything online automatically. Of course, the online thing could become a problem, since I know many people turn off the internet when they write to avoid distractions...

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    1. Me too, Kayla! Way to think positive!

      I'm going to have to look into Google Docs and see what all the fuss is about!

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  16. Have I ever?!?! WAAAAAY too many times...well, only twice. But still. I did the exact same thing--I cried. It was the WHOLE book I had written so far. Luckily, most of it I had printed out, but that was a lot of typing. Bleh. Actually, just two day ago I lost the first two chapters of my WIP...even though I KNEW I should make two copies (and that's what I was very faithful to do once that happened to my other book!!) and didn't!!! At least I have that printed out too. Funny, I never lose my book that is on paper...it's just the nasty old computer that destroys my files. ERRRRG!! I usually like computers...but not always. Sigh! Hope you remember most of what you lost (I never do, though.).

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    1. Oh, Amanda! The whole book... Wah!!! I'd cry too. Poor you.
      I did remember most of it. I'm almost done rewriting it. Whew! But it's not as lovely as it was. But I have faith that I can get it there!

      Must. Think. Positive!

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  18. Yes! I am so paranoid now that I have auto-save on every minute, auto-recover on, a dropbox account that automatically updates on my computer and online, and everything printed out.
    I've never actually lost any writing, but you only ruin your final science project/exam once.

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    1. Eeeeeg. That sounds like it would have been a bad day. Perhaps it would make some good conflict for a main character someday. LOL

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  19. Ack! I'm so sorry Jill :( I had that happen when I was finishing my first book. The ending was absolutely perfect! But I wanted to fiddle with it just one more time, so I was doing a little cutting and pasting. Then I closed windows and instead of saving, I clicked the don't save button. I cried and couldn't look at my computer for a day. Then I went back in and finished the book.

    Since reading this post, I just went and saved my latest rewrites!

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    1. I've done that! Hit the Don't Save button. That is the worst, because you did it! It was totally your fault, and you just keep beating yourself up. Or maybe that's just me. LOL

      I'm glad you've finished that book and backed up. :-)

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    2. No, it's not just you. I do that, too. :)

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  20. The blog design is fixed! :D

    Oh. Um. My lost work horror story.

    My laptop tends to get bugs - the kind that do no harm but annoy you to death. My most common laptop problem is viruses that come from who-knows-where and make audio ads or the sound from a random video/television show (usually British celebrity news. no joke!) play. So my dad will load all my stuff onto a hard drive, wipe out my computer (very stressful for me. I imagine it's the same way moms feel when they hand over their toddler to the doctors.) and then re-boot it and download all the stuff from the hard drive. (She's ALIVE! Yay!)

    He did this a week after NaNoWriMo started. I'd been plotting out my book for ages, before I even heard of NaNo, so I had decided to start the actual writing for NaNo. The beginning was plaguing me, but I finally got a good hour's writing time in on Saturday. Sunday, Dad went to work on my computer. That night I opened my files to do more writing - my goal was an hour a day - only to find the story was completely gone. I searched my computer frantically, then handed it over to Dad.

    (Did I mention he works with technology in the Air Force for a living?)

    But only a miracle worker could bring back a file that no longer existed. I spent the rest of the night sobbing into my pillow and trying to coherent enough to reassure Dad that it wasn't his fault. Apparently he didn't know I had been on my computer the night before; he had put everything on the hard drive earlier that day.

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    1. Ah. I'm doing NaNo the same way this year. I hate computer mishaps! I lost like 1500 words once, but thanks to Word's autosave program at 3 am, I recovered it. Did you try to repeat it, or just leave it?

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    2. Oh, Emily. :-/ Sad day, that one. Gah!

      Katie- Autosave is often a hero. But sometimes it takes the night off! lol

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  21. Oh! So sad. I can't imagine - actually I can. And that's what's so frightening about it! It's like an author's deepest darkest nightmere from the pits of the netherworld. I pray that it turns out just as good the second time, if not better! :)

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    1. Yes, that black thought that haunts you when you close your eyes. A faint whisper, deadly in its very subtlety:

      "What if I lose my book?"

      I am completely serious, if exaggerating. :)

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    2. Thanks, Gillian!

      Someone should write this story about a book that gets lost to the netherworld. I think there's a story there! LOL

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  22. UGH UGH UGH. This just happened like a month ago when the entire revised, final draft of my NaNoWriMo manuscript was on my flashdrive and I LEFT THE FLASHDRIVE IN A COMPUTER AT THE LIBRARY. *headdesk* It was the worst moment of my life. I looked everywhere for it but couldn't find it. I cried for a very, very long time. I still had my unedited third draft, so it wasn't so bad, but yeah. I was devastated. So sorry for your loss!

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    1. Nooooooo! It's MY biggest nightmare that I'll lose my flash drive. I take the thing on the strangest journeys. Poor you, Cinder! You should make a LOST poster for it and hand it up at the library. lol

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  23. I don't know if this helps, but this trick helped my mom when she lost her MS work (it only works on MS 2010 though)
    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/recover-unsaved-ms-word-2010-document-seconds/

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    1. Jewels,
      I tried this last night! This very page. LOL I was so excited. Alas, it was not to be. *sigh*
      Thanks, though. It does look like an amazing feature.

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  24. From Amo Libros:
    Oh yes. Several times. You see, the "low battery" warning sound on my computer was so low that if I was really zoned in to what I was writing, I wouldn't hear it. Naturally, if I was that zoned in, I usually hadn't clicked "save" for quite awhile either. And the auto recovery feature didn't usually keep the last few paragraphs. My solution? Click on "customize sound" and replace my little beep with a sound effect my brother did for a stop-motion animation which I call "crash and burn". It works extremely well.

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  25. I write on Google Docs for several reasons - password protection, access from any computer, and ... the fact that it auto-saves every several seconds.

    Once, however, that very fact was nearly the death of me. I had selected all the text (font-changing, or something like that) and my younger sister, messing around next to me, accidentally hit backspace. Before I could undo, it saved the change - and then Docs quit working! I did end up losing everything, every single itty bitty word and ninety pages...

    ...but then realized I had saved most of it on a Word document. My relief can't be related in words.

    So, I sympathize, Ms. Williamson. I hope each rewrite is better than the one before. :)

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    1. Oh, Allison! 90 pages... GAH! I'm glad you got most of it back. And your poor sister. I bet she felt your pain and felt really bad!

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    2. Yes, she did feel bad and I was happy for both our sakes when I got it back. :)

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  26. Aw, Jill! I am sorry about that! So sorry.... :[ I've never lost my whole story, though I did have an annoying string of losing-the-same-scene over and over. It was a highly emotional scene and I had to start from scratch 3 times, but by the end I know it was a better scene over all! :D
    I'll pray your mind is quick to remember all those delightful pieces you had put in! *hugs*!

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! I think it will be better in the end. Sad that you kept on losing the same scene! I bet that was super frustrating!
      Thanks for the hugs! :-)

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  27. I always fear those moments....But! My theory is: If you loose some of your story, don't panic! Because maybe the parts you wrote earlier will turn out better the second time! :D Though, sometimes what you wrote before was actually the best thing you've written, then that can be a problem :| Anyway, there's always a rainbow after the storm :D

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    1. True! And, way to be positive! I'm trying to be more positive in my life. It takes much training and coaching. :-)

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  28. ACH! How terrible!!!

    I lost my little 'memory stick thingy' (Thats what I call it...I completely forget the real name...) that I store all my novel, poetry etc docs on. I really freaked out, because I was afraid I had left it in my pocket, and then when I washed my jeans at the laundromat, they had gotten left there....

    ...But I found it, safe and sound. In my bedroom. I hate putting things where they belong. I can never find them. XD If I had just LEFT it by the computer, or stashed it in my purse, I would've found it right off. Instead...oh no, I had to put it on my desk, neatly snuggled up against a stack of books. XD

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    1. LOL! I'm always paranoid about losing mine too. You know, my husband is always losing his flash drive, and he's washed it so many times! It always still works. I'm always astonished, because I know that if I ever washed mine, it would be dead. lol

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    2. I know what you mean...when I "lose" something, I had better go check where it belongs...because a lot of times, that is where it is. xDD

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  29. Oo, not fun. And such a heartache, eh? Good luck with the rewriting the rewrite. And LOVE the blog's new look too, it's amazing. :)

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    1. Thanks, Cait!

      And, yes! I love the new header. Way to go, Steph!

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  30. Gah. Been there, done that. I feel your pain.
    I came to rely on my USB during NaNoWriMo. I always saved a backup at the end of the day on my laptop, but throughout the day, I switched computers a lot (my laptop heats up, and the family desktop annoys me at times), so I just carried my work around in my USB.
    One particular day, I wrote this scene. I'd been struggling so hard with this one part. And the day I finally got it right... my USB crashed that evening. And I never got my beloved scene back. And my (updated) outline went missing for three weeks until my uncle was kind enough to figure out how to get it back.
    But my scene never, ever recovered. And as I rewrote it, it just didn't feel the same :(

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    1. Gah! That's happened to me too. So sad. And I vowed to constantly back up my USB, and, years later, I've gotten lazy again...

      *goes to back up USB again!*

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  31. Love the fandandylous spanking new look! :D

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  32. I'm so sorry! It's every author's worst nightmare, isn't it?
    It's never happened to me before, but I did lose a lot of poetry when my laptop was wiped :(
    Not fun, but I've learnt my lesson now, and I try to back my files up when I can.

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    1. Yes. It is a nightmare. But, things could be worse. Must stay positive!
      And good job backing up your stuff, Kate!

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  33. Bummer! I'm so sorry! :( A few months ago the power went out at our house and I couldn't get the computer to start back up again. I thought I'd lost my whole story, and it was sooo painful! Thankfully though, my dad is a computer genius and he got all my files back for me. :)

    Have you tried searching for all *.asd files on your computer? This article might be very helpful!
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/107686

    I'll be praying for you!

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    1. I did the *.asd. I tried everything under the sun. It's so great to know a tech genius, though. I'm hoping my son gets on this thing soon. But he's only ten. Still... he's animated a little movie for his sister using Powerpoint. I think there is definitely hope there. LOL

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  34. Wow.
    That must REALLY hurt. You poor thing! *hugs*

    Ok. Unfortunately, this has happened to me before but not on something so big! I hope everything goes OK with your rewrites. I feel so sorry for you! :( Good Luck!

    BTW: The new header for the blog is so pretty! :)

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  35. I'm sorry this happened :(

    Last year my flashdrive was given a virus, and I've spent almost a year now trying to recover it with any different method that I can. It has several novels, short-stories, pictures, and other really important things.

    I know how frustrating losing your work is!!

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  36. That is SO sad! I am so sorry for your loss. I feel like we should have a burial ceremony.

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  37. I'm so sorry!
    My old computer that I had all my stories on for the past 6 or 7 years got a bad virus back in April and broke. I was able to get some of the stuff back, but not everything. *sigh* So, like you said, I'm starting over.

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  38. I had just recently had a writing mishap. I had my dad change my system from Open Office to Word and let's just say he kind of lost my entire manuscript. My ENTIRE manuscript. Well over two hundred pages and almost three years of my life, just gone. I spent a good hour balling my eyes out but we eventually got it back and I am never letting that happen again.Trust me, it wasn't fun.

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  39. The family computer died one time and I lost the story I had been writing on when I was seven, and last year my hard drive baked (Dad said it would be more useful as a baseball, currently, then as a hard drive) and I lost my entire story; nearly 70,000 words. I had emailed it to myself, but I was missing about three hard chapters. :P (My super-dad recovered it though :D) I totally freaked. I was "never going to write again!!" I can laugh about it now, but it sure wasn't funny then. Ever since, I've saved all my work in three different locations, a thumbdrive, in an email, and on my computer.

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  40. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Jill!!! I feel so bad for you! I'm so sorry! Been there, but it was recovered: http://www.rachellerea.com/2011/07/hold-it-loosely-or-my-recent-panic.html

    {P.S. Stephanie, I don't visit for a week because it's the first week of school and I open up GTW and there's a brand. spankin.' new. header. Gorgeous!}

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    1. Glad to have you back, Rachelle! :)

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    2. LOL. Glad to have time to breathe (and browse blogs) again! :)

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  41. It hasn't happened for me just yet... whew! But my computer completely died on me in 2010 after a good use of 5 years and I couldn't access my homework or anything... it sucked! But luckily the hardrive wasn't damaged so I could recover everything, just I had to do my homework all over again because I hadn't saved :(

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  42. I've been working so hard on a manuscript on animal welfare with so many scientific facts, it ran into about 300 pages and I was just going over it and putting the finishing touches to it before trying to seek out publishers. But today, I lost the lot - more than a years work down the pan in a second. I had got it on automatic save every 10 minutes, but none of it was saved. I'm absolutely devastated.

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  43. No, thankfully. I write my stories down, then type them up. Unless I lose the notebook....which has happened before X)

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