As a human, I'm a stacker. I stack the ten books I am more or less reading by my chair, I stack all the papers I have to do something with on my desk and my computer desktop is littered with gifs and jpegs and docs, some in folders and some simply floating around getting in my way. Every so often I tidy up.
Today I was cleaning up the desktop, putting the cartoons in a folder, dumping old notes and spreadsheets into the Trash, making a folder optimistically named 'Taxes', and the desktop was looking very clean and organized. Normally, I follow through by simply clicking Empty Trash.
Some dim distant bell rang in my head. Something, something was niggling at my attention. Where was the current manuscript? It should be right there…
It's too bad I wasn't hooked up to a blood pressure meter because I might have set a new land speed record for panic. My hands were literally shaking when I opened the Trash folder. And there it was: 60,000 plus words of The Dog of Pel. Thank god I am on a mac. I hauled it back very very carefully (shaking hands, remember?) and opened it. It was, of course, fine. Unlike its creator.
Yes, I have backups. But I've made a lot of changes in the last three weeks: changes in plot structure, characterization, and a host of tiny details. Losing that file would have been a major and depressing setback and I'm not sure I would have the energy or enthusiasm to recreate it.
Obviously (DUH!) I need to revisit an auto-backup utility. I've avoided these because of my entrenched prejudices against IT file control programs, based on 30 years of Big Corporate experience. (They forced us into auto-backups, but we never ever had a successful restore. Not once.)
Dog of Pel is about halfway, as far as I can tell, and if I can't who can? Sorry, still giddy with relief here. It's in the 'muddled middle' where the initial inspiration has waned and the end is not yet in sight. Lots of uncertainty and a massive number of choices, each one creating more choices and so on. It's satisfying work, but it is still work.
I don't know what I would have done if I had trashed the manuscript. Cried, certainly. Been depressed, absolutely. I hope my sense of the story would have let me, after a period of mourning, go back to the last backup and recreate what I had done. Thank all the gods and little fishes, I don't have to go down that road. Thank god I listened to that little niggling voice. Right now, I'm taking myself out to lunch.
And my hands have stopped shaking.