Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Lost Stories

About a year and a half ago, my dear computer was on the fritz (is that a real expression? I've heard my mother use it). It had strange start-ups, often went into safe-mode, and it froze a lot. While I could still get on, I frantically took everything I had ever written in the past five years and put it on a flash drive. Just in time, because a few days later the computer officially died. I asked the IT guru at work and he told me I needed a new hard drive which, to my surprise, was not very expensive. He was also nice enough to install it and update it and everything. I basically had a brand new computer and it works to this day.

Flash forward to about six months ago. I had been knee deep in my novel for two years by that point and I was not working on anything else. Suddenly, I realized that I had never taken all of the backup files from the flash drive to put them back on to my computer. Imagine my surprise when I plugged in the little key and it said: ERROR. This can't be, I said to myself, You can't lose the backup. Who backs up a backup? That's what the backup is for.

For the past 6 months, I have enjoyed living in denial. I have plugged it back in several times since then and received the same error. I nervously giggled and politely said to my little flash drive: Oh my little flash drive, you're so silly. Your errors must be erroneous.

About two weeks ago, I decided that the flash drive's behavior was unacceptable. I downloaded a host of programs to 'reformat' the drive. And they were all unsuccessful. I took it to the geek squad and was laughed at: Sorry lady, that thing is completely toasted.

And so, I very slowly let it sink in. I have officially lost about 5 years worth of writing. Which includes three full length screenplays and at least a dozen short stories. As well as a lot of false starts that I always planned to come back to.

Alas, it is not meant to be.

I will miss the screenplays. They were not very good, but there were some good ideas there and I would very much like to read them. And I will miss the short stories. Because, my goodness, they've sat alone long enough. I thought I might like to edit them and work to get them published. But most of all, I will miss the false starts. Because I do believe they deserved a second chance.

And so, I'd like to honor some of lost stories here and now:

Baz and Andy. I hope you are well on the north shore of Long Island.

The girl who stole the piece of the old fountain. What will you do with it now?

The boy who lost the water fight who later ended up in jail. Sometimes it's hard to change true stories, even when you pretend they are fiction.

Susan who lives upstairs, who was always looking down.

The woman in France. I'm sorry that you are frozen in an unwelcome reunion with your gluttonous sister.

Leyna and the professor. My goodness I've left you two in quite a mess, haven't I?

And, mother and daughter, Anna and Claire. Two people who will forever haunt me. You're very persistent, more so than all the others. I know your story will get told.

Thank you all for getting me where I am today. Wherever that may be...

Please feel free to honor any lost stories in the comments below.


  1. Oh no!! This killed me to read. I kept waiting for you to say, "I found them."

    "Please say you found them!" But no. Still hoping for happy ending, like someday you rewrite one of those lost stories -- one that's deeply embedded in your memory -- and then it becomes a best-selling novel! All of them sound interesting.

  2. Oh, how sad to lose all that! Hopefully you can dredge up enough to start writing some of them again to be better than ever! I guess you do have to backup your backup. I've learned the hard way to do that, but never lost so much as you have.

  3. Oh Melissa! I totally feel for you on this. I have an old laptop that is totally virus-ridden and has tons of old work on, stuff from 5-9 years' ago that was never backed up. Now I don't know what to do with it. It's just an ancient laptop, gathering dust. I should probably take it to the geek squad and see if they can salvage any of it!

    My big worry now: I back everything up on an external hard drive, but I've never once tested it to see if I'm doing it correctly. I am now inspired to do that!