Ever get those messages from the universe? And not listen to them anyway?
I have, on both fronts.
This is the story of my work in progress, a novel called ‘Blue Popcorn’. It’s a personal story, but one of persistence if nothing else (and of two animals). I can only hope that this story, told only part way through the WIP, ends here, and there is nothing else to report on it.
- In the beginning, there was a novel idea, all shiny bright. It was…er…okay.
- The novel idea gained more substance: a storyline, characters, structure, theme. (October 2012, NaNoWriMo prep).
- The novel entered the first draft stage, during the biggest world writing marathon of them all (November 2012, NaNoWriMo).
- All was good, all was well. After 2 weeks of writing, the novel existed at nearly 50,000 words, a writing journal accompanied it, spreadsheets told of wordcount and moods and the writer was backing up her work daily and everything was good or beaut, as the Aussies once said.
- On Sunday commencing Week 3 of NaNo, the writer’s laptop hard-drive did a crazy burp thing and crashed. (Signs from the universe #1). Thoughts of giving up entered the writer’s mind.
- The writer borrowed another laptop, took a day to setup the software she needed, then went to her handy backup EHD, to discover the backup routines had failed (Signs from the universe #2). Thoughts of giving up stayed in the writer’s mind.
- After going for repairs, the broken laptop limped back home, with a new operating system, and most of the data and old software from the U.K. wiped. Five days after the crash, the writer managed to find a copy of the latest backup on the D:/ on the computer. Some of the backup routines had worked, and the drive was still accessible. The novel was saved!
- The novel limped through Week 4 of NaNo, without supporting software, without inspiration, and struggled through the climatic ending and resolution. But the first draft was born at 58,000 words. And it was pretty shitty, but okay.
- Still feeling inspired by finishing the first draft, the writer continued on with some re-visualising the novel through December. The novel’s structure was rejigged, lots of notes were made in new software, the manuscript was reformatted into chapters. Notes were taken ready for rework the next month. The novel had support, had friends, and possible clothing.
- The novel was backed up efficiently in multiple places – an EHD, a USB drive, so precious was it. The writer even glowered over it, wearing it as a bracelet (USB bracelet) on her arm, just in case. (When she went to see the Hobbit on Boxing Day, she already had her own “my precious”). The supporting notes and files were also backed up onto EHD. Everything was safe.
- On Christmas Day, the writer received a replacement laptop* and current software. She configured it quickly, inspired to start work on the novel on an even safer environment. Then, as she transferred over copies of the files on her EHD, it was knocked to the floor by a cat jumping on it. (Signs from the universe #3). Thoughts of giving up entered the writer’s mind.
- “Never fear,” she told the novel, “We have you on ‘the other EHD'”. Except (sigh) that was a slightly older copy, and all the structural files and notes on the broken EHD were gone, gone forever. Thoughts of giving up continued in the writer’s mind.
- “Never fear,” she told the novel with ill-disguised trembling lips, but still wearing a golden helmet with matching lego sword, “No technical demons will ever win this battle, for I am writer, and you are my precious. Aha! We have you on my bracelet”. And after some tweaking of old copies, the novel did return. The novel was saved (again!) but all it’s friends were gone. It was alone, a simple naked draft.
- After two weeks of configuring, there was enough software on the new machine to cushion the novel back into life and support it through a rebirth. Except, where was that latest copy backed up onto the USB bracelet? There it was, in little bits of orange rubber and metal fibres, under the coffee table. Yes, truly – the writer’s dog really had eaten the homework this time around. (Signs from the universe #4)
- Still naked**, the novel begun again in devilish heat (43 degrees) and literal sweat. New files, new notes on how it will grow up one day. The writer is reworking all those thoughts, the novel waits quietly in expectation of some new friends to accompany it on any future journey.
- In the ending…we don’t know yet, but it’s bound to contain some more thrills and suspense – it is a thriller, afterall.
* Side note – the replacement laptop was Australian, with a US keyboard layout, hence the writer’s current difficulty in making full sentences in an efficient timing after spending two minutes trying to find the hashtag or speech marks on the keyboard layout.
** An image search term fraught with difficulty right from the start.