Saturday, May 21, 2016

WTLI - On We Go...After a (writing) Loss

Sunrise in Amarillo
I've often heard writers say their books are like their children, usually when asked to choose a favorite which is often impossible.

I always rebelled against that saying. Children are children. Nothing is like a child and nothing can stand up to comparison of beautiful little children in all of their innocent glory.

Don't get me wrong: my books are part of me, also, as my children are, and I get that. It's still not the same.

But I've finally come to understand why writers can say such a thing.

Two months ago, my computer crashed. Yes, I have most of my stuff pretty well backed up, and luckily I was able to do a restore and it pulled back all of my writing (and photos, files). What it didn't save was my OneNote contents. I love OneNote. It's the best writing tool I've found other than pencil and keyboard. I do not love that the contents are NOT saved during a restore.

In my OneNote, I had a folder for every book and within those folders I have outlines, research, notes, and even bits of dialogue I want to pull in at a later point in the story. Writers know that once you write those bits of dialogue, if you lose them, they're likely just gone. Vanished. I had a TON of them for my Rehearsal series, which is the closest book to being able to compare to a child I have -- I've been working on it since long before I ever thought about having children. It's a niche series, very long, very detailed, sometimes intense, and only a handful of readers will bother with it. I know this, but that doesn't matter. It's the story I most need to write for myself and my characters are truly a part of me. They are.

My last OneNote backup onto a jump drive was in 2013. Losing every bit of research and notes, and especially that precious dialogue was devastating. It was devastating to the point I nearly stopped writing altogether. I just couldn't face it.

It came to me yesterday that I was in mourning. My energy is gone. My impetus for jumping up in the morning to get to work is gone, other than my family, which yes, does matter more. My passion for writing is gone.

I'm still doing short stories, on paper with pencil, for my own challenge of a story a week, although I'm far behind on it. But it feels like routine, a must-do, more than a passion.

Trust me, I tried everything to get those notes back. I even went to an expert. He couldn't do it, either. For the past two months, I had a glimmering hope that there was one more way I could do it, but I couldn't make myself try because I wanted at least that glimmer of hope. Two days ago I made myself try. It didn't work.

So, I took a deep breath and uploaded the saved files from 2013 and I'm in the process of trying to rearrange them the way I had a couple of years ago that made it all easier to work with. In the meantime, I'm working at overcoming that hole in my gut that makes me want to throw my hands up and walk away, and I'm starting again. (I've also started printing out my notes!)

I've now and then tried to help console authors who lost chapters or such of their books by saying the next draft of it will be better and stronger, so I'm trying to take my own advice and believe what's really lost I didn't really need because something better will come. Sigh. I hope that's true. I have lost chapters before. I know that's tough. But this... losing dialogue and story pieces that help define characters and story, especially in a complex series that will end up around a million and a half words, is truly like losing part of someone you love. At least it is to me. I suppose that means the passion is still down within somewhere just smoldering and waiting through this necessary mourning period.

Next month marks 20 years since I seriously started work on Rehearsal. I first started it about 35 years ago and had a couple of scenes on paper when all of my files were lost(?) -- paper files this time -- and I went back to just thinking about it without writing it anywhere it could be taken away. It's been a heck of a journey with this series. But you know, it matters enough to keep going. I have to believe there's a reason I've been obsessed with the story and characters most of my nearly 50 years of life. So on we go...

As the photo above shows, the sun does rise again. You just have to let yourself see it.

Current link to the series (may change after a complete web redo mandated by also losing my very old web program I can't replace): -- you can always find it through