Panic at the Storage Medium

Last night brought about one of those heart rendering moments that everyone who uses a computer falls into now and again.  Let’s go through this, shall we?

Did my write and rewrite on my latest scene.  I know I chucked out maybe fifty, sixty words, which is a nice chunk when you only managed about four hundred.  Then I started into writing, and I swear, this was one of the first times where I got into writing things out of sequence.  I knew I had to say things, but I was really jumping ahead of myself getting it said.  Managed to get out just over a thousand words, however, so in the end it was a good time had by all.  More or less.  I’m sure others will tell you differently.

I saved the story, then I went to save the story again.  I keep everything I write backed up on external drives:  the only thing I have on my laptop is the current work in progress.  I hook up the drive, start the copy–

And I begin getting file errors.  In particular, it told me one file was “in use”.  That’s never a good sign, because if nothing is running and you’re being told something is being used, that usually means it can’t be used.

"No, you can't do this to me!  Damn you, unfeeling hunk of metal!"

“You can’t do this to me! Damn you, unfeeling, soulless, demon machine!”

Being in data processing as long as I have, the first thing you do is look for the “root cause”.  At the moment this meant, “Am I having an issue with the version on my laptop, or is the problem with the one saved on my external drive?”  The nice thing is, Scrivener stores every scene as a separate file within your project, so when you get a message saying a certain file is bad, a few clicks on the Explorer will tell you right away which scene is giving you fits.

Found it, then brought up both versions of the story to double-check.  The problem was with my saved version.  This is not good, because you don’t want your saved version to crap out on you, right?  On the other hand, if you original version is okay, that’s a plus, because you get rid of the bad version and just go from there.

I renamed the project on my external drive and copied over my work in progress.  I couldn’t delete the old project because of the corrupted file, but as it was already eleven-thirty PM, I was ready for bed.

Up before the alarm went off, I fired up the laptop and then copied over my work in progress to my other external drive, aka my failover drive. Yes, I keep things back up on two separate systems, and I’m thinking of adding a third just for the hell of it.  The copy went well, so now I have things backed up and protected.

At the moment I’m running a disk-fix program to see if the file I have is bad, or if there are sectors on my external drive that need fixing.  If the drive is okay, I just need to delete the corrupted files, and there are ways you can slug that sucker out of there.

"Yes, who's a good little system? You are! Just get my disk fixed, 'kay?"

“Yes, who’s a good little system? You are! Just get my disk fixed, ‘kay?”

The moral of the story:  have backups, and have a plan to fix and repair for when things start to go sideways.  These days you can pick up terabyte driver for under one hundred dollars, and it doesn’t make sense not to have a couple of disks worth of your stories safe and sound.

Otherwise . . .

"NO!  NO!  My Lord of the Rings/Star Wars slashfic novel was going to rule, dammit!  RULE!"

“NO! NO! My Lord of the Rings/Star Wars slashfic novel was going to rule, dammit! RULE!”

Really Just a Manic Monday

I should have figured out that when my dream was all about having my car stolen and then being threatened with rape by the cops investigating it that today was going to be a really crappy day.

Getting into work wasn’t bad since I walk, but my user account was shut down because I was off the system, on holiday, for four days.  Really, four days?  And you figured what?  I’m not coming back?  I’ve moved to California with an aching in my heart?  I died driving off the Pennsylvania Turnpike screaming, “I regret nothing!”?  Ah, well, I’m back, and sort of in business.  Happy December, yo!

The weekend was light writing time.  I was busy most of the morning Sunday, and well into the afternoon.  Once I managed from free time I reconnected with a few friends, and actually set up a couple of them as beta readers for an old novel.  So I have to format the book up as a pdf and email it out, and see what sort of feedback I get–besides, “You misspelled this!”  They’ll know up front it’s a rough draft, and I just need feedback on where it’s going.  Besides straight to hell.

So I didn’t end the scene, I didn’t move on to the last one of the chapter, I didn’t finish the chapter and start the first full week of school.  That’s going to happen this week, for sure.  And a few other things as well, but I’m getting it done.  I just need to do a lot of other things at the same time, and it slows everything down.

I’ve done this same thing the last couple of NaNos as well.  You bust butt for a whole month, trying to get a story written, and then 1 December comes along and it’s slow up time.  The rush to burn through fifty thousand, or more, words in thirty days throws off a lot of things, and you feel like you’re either going to take the month off, or struggle to get things done.  This is another reasons I don’t believe I’ll do NaNo again, because there was little writing in October, and now you have to get back to something like normal in December, and that’s two months when one could have been cranking out eight hundred to a thousand words a day, and I could end up with seventy-four to ninety-two thousand words on my story instead of just over sixty right now.

I have my work cut out for me tonight, to get things formatted and other things started.  Maybe I’ll even begin the editing process tonight, along with a little writing of new things, ’cause I’ve let the cat out of the magical bag in my story, and it’s time for dreams.  And not the kind with Dean Stockwell singing into a work lamp while Dennis Hopper looks on like he’s about the cry.  And don’t forget the guy dancing with the snake.

Yeah, that’s a completely different nightmare.  One I’ve seen more than a few times.

Power Line Math

I guess when you depends on energy to get your things written, you better hope your energy is coming uninterrupted.  Most days this isn’t a problem.

Yesterday it was.

I was just starting in on afternoon writing when the power went out.  It was just after two PM, and I had to do a  quick “Open up the laptop and save and bring it down” move before things died.  I work on a seven-year old laptop, and the battery is pretty much crap; after forty-five minutes I’m looking at a cooling hunk of metal.  So if I don’t have a power source, then I best save what I have and move on to something else.

Power was out for two hours:  it think it popped back on around four-twenty.  Power up the computer and start in on writing again–  Then it was time to go out to dinner.  So save off what I’d written after about twenty minutes, which wasn’t very much if you’re asking.

Go eat, return to the house about six-ten and . . . no power.  Utility people are right across the street replacing our power box.  The juice is back on in the house at six thirty-seven, not a big deal, so I get into writing again . . . and reading a few things here and there, and chatting, but nothing out of the ordinary, right?

Finally settle into writing about seven-thirty, and I’m going along, struggling with lines, and–out go the lights, a little after eight PM.  Save what I have, shut down computer, go outside and relax in the cool air.

And thinking about what I wanted to say.

I knew the discussion my two on-stage characters were going to have.  I’d even worked out what would be said for more than a few days.  But when it comes to showing the scene, to saying what they need to say, I’m holding back.  The words I want to say don’t come as easily as before.  Particularly with this story, which I’m trying so hard to have come out, in my mine, good.

Sitting in the back yard I thought about what was being said, how people felt.  I had a lot of math coming up, stuff I worked out earlier in the day concerning numbers for the student body, and spilling that out was going to come fairly easy.  Breathing deep the gathering gloom–yes, Moody Blues there, who I once saw play in the late 1980’s–I worked out the conversation in a way that made sense, and that didn’t puzzle me now.

Power was back on right around nine-thirty, and it was back up, power up, write up.  I wrote things, I made conversation, I showed body language and sensed emotions.  I’m not necessary happy with that last part, because I feel things didn’t turn out as I wanted; some of the feeling seem forced.  So I have the file up now, and I’ll give it a quick peek to see if there’s anything I can change.

I want this story finished; I want to move on to the next thing.  This weekend feels like a good time to wrap it all up.

If the power stays on, it might actually happen.