Michael Haskins

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back up and then back up again . . .

(I had a book signing last week at Key West Island Books for the 'lost manuscripts' that went well. On top is a photo of the mayor, Craig Cates, and his wife, Cheryl, at the book signing. If you would like a signed or inscribed copy of either of my books, call and order from the bookstore, 305-294-2904.)

In 1996, I moved for Los Angeles to Key West. My dog Phouka (pooka) in the front seat of my Chevy Celebrity and everything else I owned in the backseat, the trunk or on the roof. We didn't have flash drives or external hard drives then. On my computer were two completed Mick Murphy Mysteries – REVENGE and Tijuana Weekend – and a half-finished story, unnamed and my attempt at thriller writing.

In September 1998, Hurricane Georges blew through the Keys and took my floating home with it, while Phouka and I evacuated Naples, Florida, something I haven’t done since. I lost most everything, my personal library, my computer and most everything I owned. Gone were my novels. One of them, my thriller, There Are No Good Guys Only Terrorists, was told in the third person and dealt with renegade Israeli Mossad officers, posing as Arabs, arranging the training of Palestinians for attacks on hotels in Las Vegas. The Mossad officers believed if the US had a taste of what the people of Israel were going through the American government would let them fight the terrorists the way they wanted.

I recalled all this at Key West Island Books last Friday night at a book signing I called “The Lost Manuscripts.” I have put both books on Kindle and Nook and on Amazon as trade paperbacks. Today, I have two external hard drives and a few flash drives as backups and thought I was safe from ever losing a manuscript again.

Ah, but few of us are as smart as we think! Mid-week I finished a few new chapters on Car Wash Blues, and was ready to put them into my “one document” copy that I consider my finished chapters – ready for a long read and rewrite.

Imagine my surprise when I opened chapter 48 and it was chapter 52. I somehow saved chapter 52 to ALL my backup copies. I couldn't even remember what the chapter was about, I was long past it. I read 47 and 49 and drew a blank. I went into my Norton back up program but it only had copies from the last back up date and by then chapter 48 had the chapter 52 document in it!

Well, it was a hair puller. I tried and tried, but kept coming up with chapter 52. I cussed myself like a drunken sailor for being so stupid as not to look at where I was saving my current work. Too late, to do any good and it didn't make me feel better.

What I eventually thought of doing was restore my computer to an earlier date. I found out I could do that to a document and not my whole C drive. I went back about two weeks and found chapter 48. I wanted to kiss the computer, I was so happy.

However, that didn't mean I wouldn't do something stupid again and all the backups in the world weren't gonna do me any good if they held the wrong document. I have promised myself to look at where I was saving my documents. Have you ever lied to yourself? Yeah, me too.

I have decided the only safe was is to make a hard copy and, if necessary, I can scan it in later.

So, what have I learned for this? Well, yeah, that I can be stupid, but I knew that long before this. I think I’d say I’d learned that you can never be safe enough in saving and protecting your writing. As of right now, the hard copy is my last defense.

If you have a secret that would help me, let me know and I won’t tell a soul, promise.

Oh yeah, if I had “lost manuscripts” how’d I publish the books. Well somehow, God takes care of drunks, fools and Irishmen and I’m batting a thousand. Before leaving for Key West, I gave my sister a floppy disc, just in case I got in an accident in my drive across country. Of course, There Are No Good Guys . . . wasn't one of the stories on the floppy. But, I had three of the four, a moment of sanity in another wise insane life when I made that floppy copy! And, I am thankful that I have a sister that keeps the things I leave behind.

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