Friday, March 4, 2011

Revision Revisited, Then Revisited Again

I have been MIA from the Internet as of late due to three things: story revision, my crazy life, and story revision.Currently, I loathe revision more than I ever have.

For Christmas, I got a bright and shiny new laptop. For a time, I felt really cool moving my laptop around. In those spare minutes when all was quiet in the house, I was working on stories. I can write that way, in short periods of time. I always read about those writers who do yoga for an hour while gazing at the sunrise, have a cup of organic green tea and summon the muse prior to beginning writing.

Here, it's more like gag some coffee down, throw wet towels into the washing machine, get the kids out, go to work, transfer wash to dryer, then grab at a few quiet minutes here and there. My muse is not hearing --

So I was getting a whole lot more done since the minute I shut my door, it seemed to trigger mini emergencies. Somehow, if I was right there at the kitchen table typing, no one seemed to need anything quite as urgently. I stayed off the huge distraction of the Internet. And I finished the revision.

I should add that I don't really like the hardware aspect of writing, as in sending files and using the computer. If a legal pad and a good Bic pen (like one that costs over $4.00) were as fast, I would sit and do the scrivener thing. But it's too slow and you end up having to type in the end, so I type from the beginning.

Okay, so finished the revision, and after one last look, ready to send. All writers love those words, READY TO SEND. file. Gone. Vanished. I had even saved it under a bright and shiny new name on my bright and shiny new computer. Teenagers were summoned. They who had computers for their Sesame Street characters (seriously, Christopher's Big Bird computer is still in a cabinet in the living room) No luck. No one could find the story. I had the old version of it on my big old computer upstairs, so I emailed it back to myself and redid the revision. This time, I had them watch me save the file.

"That's exactly what I did last time," I insisted.

"Couldn't have been," teenagers insisted, "it would still be there."

"Fine, so it's definitely there?"

They nodded. I was sure it was there. I was now on say, hour eight of revision time.

So no one could figure out what happened when the SECOND complete revision disappeared. Vanished. Gone. They searched all the files. They did things I never knew about like system restores and actions that sounded like upwill sync primes. It seemed a little like sorcery.

Still gone.

 I have given up my convenient laptop and gone back to the computer that seems rooted into an ancient part of the earth. After three days of ignoring the laptop, teenagers asked, "What's going on? Did you do a third revision?"

"Not yet. And not on that thing," I said, pointing to the laptop. "I can't stand that computer."

The teenagers exchanged glances that whispered, "How old is she now? Could she be getting..."

"Mom, you act like that computer is being mean. It doesn't have a personality.  You're just unfamiliar with the word program on that one."

"It hates me. And it's haunted. You forgot to mention that little detail."

I'm hoping the third time is a charm.

And I'm not using the laptop again, just to up my odds.


Bish Denham said...

Oh Anne! How terrible. I'm still struggling with my first revision...but to have to do a third one because the first two were lost! OMG! Is there any possibility you can sooth yourself in a bubblebath surrounded by mountains of chocolate?

Anne Spollen said...

Wow, you have the best ideas, Bish. The best.

I do admit to hitting the Godiva pretty seriously. Chocolate heals.

And it's back to the drawing board - again, ugh.

Mary Witzl said...

I've been there and it is SO IRRITATING! Even the generally good, supportive laptop I'm on now plays silly buggers with me from time to time and eats things. It ate my last journal, for July through October of 2010.

No one can convince me that machines don't have personalities. There are even times I wonder if they don't have souls.

Anne Gallagher said...

And this is the reason I won't get a laptop. Sure, I'd love one for the mobility (I could write in bed) but everyone who's ever had one swears they're possessed.

No, no spooky computers for me.

I hope someday you find those revisions. Although it will probably be after the book comes out in print.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is spooky.

I back up my work 2-3 times a month on a flash drive. I'm worried that my work will disappear.

I hope to see a new book from you since I read your first two.

K.C. Shaw said...

Oh no! How awful!

I recommend about fifty flash drives to back your work up on every five minutes. That way you never lose anything--except the flash drives, of course, which are about the size of Legos and vanish just as easily.

I hope the next revision stays where you put it.

Marcia said...

Oh Anne! How awful. And sounds suspiciously like something one of my crit partners just went through.

I use flash drives. I email my work to myself. Actually, I now use Mozy, since I also had a scare when my flash drive stopped accepting new files of certain types. But the REALLY scary thing is that NONE OF THIS HELPS if the file is erased from existence the instant you save it. You can't back up what ain't there.

Possessed laptops? I had no idea. I thought I wanted one. Maybe I don't.

Anne Spollen said...

Yes, Mary, they do have souls-- tormented, twisted deviant souls that live on the work of time-pressed writers. And they are connected - the spirit that ate your journal is the cousin of the one who ate both my revisions.

Anne Spollen said...

I resisted a laptop for a long time, too, Anne. I heard the same stories.

One friend of mine believes when we connect to electricity, we connect to some element of the spiritual realm. I used to smile patiently when she said this. Now I wonder if she's not on to something...

Anne Spollen said...

Medeia, my son just gave me two flash drives. Definitely going to use them.

And, yeah, I hope to have a third out soon -- I'm going to read yours as soon as I can, too.

Right, K.C. -- I thought the same thing about flash drives - HA! How easy they would be to lose. Maybe even easier than to lose the two revisions I completed.

I don't know what MOZY is, Marcia, but isn't that lazy kind of walking?

No, you don't want a possessed laptop. If you do, I'll send you mine for free. The other night it made a strange sound which the kids said came from the wind outside.

I know it growled at me.

Nathan Buck said...


Mozy is a great backup system for if you lose a file, your computer is stolen, etc. It only costs $5 a month, and it backs everything up in the "cloud." Seriously, for those of us who are technologically challenged -- myself included -- this is a wonderful resource. And it's easy to download and access. Finally, you can set it up so it saves everything every 24 minutes, every 24 hours, every 24 days, you name it! (

Anne Spollen said...

Thanks, Nathan. I think it may come to paying a little bit so I can just write and not have to think about anything else.

Love the phrase "the cloud" - it is like that, isn't it?