Losing My Stories
I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about the people of Houston and the surrounding areas. Some of the pictures in the news have been so awful I literally pressed my hand to my heart when I saw them . My husband and I are donating to the Central Texas Food Bank because we feel like we have to do something for these people who have lost everything.
(If you don’t want to hear my story and only want my suggestion, scroll down to where I recommend the one thing every writer needs.)
Hurricane Harvey hit close to home for me (metaphorically) since I lived in New Orleans from 2004 until 2010 and experienced several hurricane scares. I was lucky during Katrina. I got out before the storm hit, and the only damage to the house I was living in was a broken window and some mold in the garage. But the school where I taught from 2004-2005 no longer exists. And I had friends and students whose homes and possessions were completely destroyed by the brackish flood waters.
I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to lose my home, (I’ve never owned my own home), but I did lose all my possessions once. It was when I was twenty years old, though, so all of my possessions fit inside my car.
The short version of the story is this: My then-boyfriend was helping me move from Los Angeles to Virginia. We loaded everything into my Toyota and set off on what we thought would be a fun cross-country trip. But on Day One, as we crossed the California desert, my boyfriend accidentally drove us off the highway and into a deep ravine. We survived, but my car and all of my things did not. We rode the Greyhound bus back to Virginia with nothing more than a duffel bag of clothes, all of which were covered in dirt and crushed glass.
I got over the loss of my possessions (quicker than you might think, actually) except for one thing: my smashed computer.
The loss of the computer was bad enough, but even worse was the fact that I hadn’t backed up my files. (Even if I had, this was in the day of creating back-up disks, and it’s likely the disks would have been destroyed in the crash anyway.)
That car wreck happened fifteen years ago, but sometimes I still think about the files I lost: the short story for my senior creative writing class about an epic party that was a metaphor for life (so deep, right?). The screenplay I wrote about teenagers working at an ice cream store (semi-autobiographical, I’ll admit). My college application essay about a Less Than Jake concert. (Now that I’m paid to help kids write their college application essays, I really wish I could read what I wrote as a seventeen-year-old!)
A Writer’s Most Important Possessions
When you’re a writer, your most important possessions aren’t your clothes or your vehicles or even your trusty laptop. It’s your stories, your ideas, your words. And that’s why there’s one thing every writer needs in order to protect their most prized possessions.A writer's most important possessions aren’t clothes or cars or computers, but stories, ideas and wordsClick To Tweet
Usually my computer problems happen not because my computer is in a crash but because the computer itself crashes.
There was one Christmas when my brother did something to my computer (that, admittedly, might have been sketchy – I think he was trying to download music for free), and suddenly my computer was DEAD. As in wouldn’t even turn on. I took it to a computer repair guy, and he shook his heads sadly and said there was nothing more he could do.
Luckily, at that point, I had most of my important files backed up on disks, but not the latest short story I’d been working on. Or the most recent draft of my graduate school thesis.
If only, I thought, there was something that continuously and automatically backed up all of the files on my computer so that I’d never lose any of my most valued possessions again.
And then I learned that there was.
The One Thing Every Writer Needs
*This section contains affiliate links.*
I’m never going to tell you that every writer needs to buy a special kind of writing notebook, or a certain novel-planning software, or a Mac laptop (although I do love my MacBook Air.) I’m not trying to get you spend money. Writing is not a job that pays well, and I’m somewhat of a Scrooge anyway.
More important than material items are the things money can’t buy. For writers they are things like time, patience, an ear for language, gumption.
But, there is one thing you can buy, for less than $5 a month, that I really believe every writer needs, and it’s called Carbonite Cloud BackUp.
I started thinking about people losing their possessions (computers included), and I decided that I needed to let you guys know about Carbonite if you don’t already. Because sure, you can back up your files on memory sticks. You can email yourself important documents (I used to do this constantly). But the reality is, when you least expect it, your computer is going to crash or get stolen or fall in the bathtub or get whisked away in a tornado. And then you’re going to then be desperate to get your hands on that one file you didn’t save anywhere else.
Here’s what Carbonite Cloud BackUp does: it backs up all of your files and photos all the time automatically. If you trash something, you can get it back. If you lose everything on your computer, it’s still there in the cloud. You can access your files from any web-connected device, so even if you just accidentally left your computer at home on the day of your big presentation, you don’t have to worry. Carbonite’s got your back(ed up files).
My life with technology got so much less stressful after I signed up. The next time my computer crashed, I didn’t freak out (that much) because I knew I could get all of my files back, even the document I was literally in the middle of working on when my computer died.
According to Carbonite:
More than 50% of computer viruses will get past your anti-virus software. With Carbonite, you can restore clean files just as they were before your computer became infected.
I’ve been a Carbonite customer for years now, and I will probably be one for the rest of my life. The other day, for example, when I thought I had accidentally deleted all 657 pictures that I’d taken of my baby since her birth in January, I gasped in fear but then immediately sighed when I remembered that I have Carbonite BackUp. “It’s okay,” told my husband. “They’re in the cloud.”
You can get the Basic Plan – unlimited backup—for less than $5 a month. Totally worth it, and definitely something every writer needs.
Still not sure? You can try Carbonite for free for 15 days with this link!
I know that last sentence sounded salesy, and I’m a little embarrassed by that. I am not a salesperson, trust me. I wouldn’t be telling you about this if I didn’t truly believe it to be a necessity. I wish it had existed 15 years ago when my computer got smashed and I lost several years-worth of my writing.
The unfortunate truth about life is that bad things happen sometimes. Hurricanes, mud slides, forrest fires. Possessions are lost or stolen or ruined in flood waters. Files are accidentally deleted. Computers crash (and so do cars). That’s why I’m telling you to protect what’s really important: your family, your pets, your pictures… and your words.