Friday, December 28, 2007

A Small Loss

Pin It I spend a lot of time daydreaming. I know, you're SHOCKED, right? Mind blowing.

Life has been really stressful for the last year or so and I've reacted in two ways - 1) eating everything in sight, and 2) daydreaming even more than I usually do. Whenever I'm alone, unless I'm really concentrating on something for work, (and sometimes even then) I drift off into a daydream. And I like it.

Nice things happen in daydreams. You are in control over what happens. Things CAN turn out perfectly. There is always enough money for everything you need. Bill collectors never call. I have no crows feet starting in the corners of my eyes. I always know the perfect thing to say and I'm not the least bit socially awkward. Oh, and I'm a size six.

Sometimes I get just as much satisfaction from an imaginary success as from a real life success - even more, because in a daydream, there is no messy reality to deal with. Don't get me wrong, my life is pretty good. Even though I've been stressed out, I am still very, very fortunate, and I know it, and I feel it. So it's not like it's an escape from my life, but it IS an escape from the stress in my life.

But I often feel guilty about wasting so much time daydreaming. As an internet friend once told me, "I believe people are put on this earth to interact with it, learn from it, and leave some kind of positive mark (no matter how small), not daydream their lives away." Yeah. What she said. More importantly, I sometimes struggle to be really present with my kids. I'm saying, "Mmmhmmm, sure, Sarah, sounds good honey," and yet I have no idea what she's said to me because I'm busy thinking about the speech I'll give right after I receive my first Academy Award.

So I made a deal with myself a while ago - I could daydream, but I had to try to restrict it to moments when I had enough time to write my daydreams down. That way, at least I was accomplishing something (becoming a better writer? at least in theory?) at the same time that I was daydreaming. As a result, I've written a lot of stuff in the past year.

When I tell people that I write a lot of fiction, but I don't want to be published, they sometimes think I'm just being modest, or a chicken, but they're wrong. I don't want to publish THAT stuff. It's too personal, too real to me. I would never be able to take the criticism - the criticism of people and characters and things that feel real to me. I prefer for my daydreams to stay in my head or in my own private written space. That way, everything stays the way I want it. There are no editors telling me to change things, no people misunderstanding the motives of characters that, even in their faults, are dear to ME. Whether the writing is any good or not, I like reading the stuff I've written. And then writing more, and then reading again and then writing more. It makes me happy.

Anyway. That leads me to what happened this week...

The portable hard drive I keep all my writing on just died. The compact flash card inside it is corrupted and can't be repaired. I asked a tech guy at work to look at it, and when he told me it was dead, I could feel myself going pale. I felt like throwing up. Because I'm so paranoid about someone actually finding and reading it, I rarely backed it up to my computer (or even to FTP space - WHY didn't I do that?!), so most of the stuff that I've written in the last couple of years is gone. Gone.

I know I never meant to publish any of it, but it is a loss all the same. All of the characters that I loved, all of the stories I loved, literally thousands of pages of stuff - gone. Now I know how Jo felt, "crying in a passion of grief and anger," except that I have no Amy to blame.

"It seemed a small loss to others, but to Jo it was a dreadful calamity, and she felt that it never could be made up to her."

I know what you mean Jo. I know what you mean. R.I.P. little flash drive. R.I.P.

26 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry! That is a BIG loss.
    Maybe you could remember most of it and rewrite it all like Jo did.

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  2. Awww Sue I'm so sorry!

    Do you ever watch Scrubs? Reading this made me think of JD and how he cocks his head to the side whenever he has a daydream.

    I love daydreaming. I actually carry on made up conversations with myself in my mirror all the time.

    It's perfectly normal, I swear.

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  3. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Good reminder to back things up - if I only knew how...

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  4. I am SO sorry! I can't imagine what would happen to me if that happened!! But, from now on email it to yourself. Email it to a free account that you use just for that purpose, or to your standard home address. Whatever works best. My writing is my lifeline, and while I have written things to be published (I dare to dream)...I have also written MANY things that I would never attempt to publish. *huggles* I'm so sorry!! Have lots of chocolate and wallow a bit...then write again!! New stuff and better stuff!!

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  5. Oh Sue, I'm so sad for you! :*(
    I daydream also. Usually in the car. I'm often thinking about the witty things I should have said and didn't. (Or did say and shouldn't have)
    In my mind I'm always more clever and funny than I am in person.
    I'm thinner too.
    No wonder I spend so much time there.
    Jill

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  6. Lisa T9:33 PM

    I'm so sorry. A week before Christmas, my husband dropped my laptop, breaking my flash drive in half. It contained all my work (contract work for clients), and I was willing to pay any amount to have it repaired, but it couldn't be done. Of course, I hadn't backed up in a month. My husband had no idea how grieved I was to have to recreate all that work in the middle of all the Christmas preparations and responsibilities... I actually cried. I'm still coming across more things that were lost. Sorry to vent. You have my sympathy. :(

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  7. oh, dear. I do so understand how you feel - it is a loss of that "other" part. That private part. The part that you have total control over. This loss may seem like a loss of that control. I would probably throw a temper tantrum if that happened to me... or hide in my bed for a couple of days...
    - OR -
    Maybe this is a sort of forced "do over?" Re-do the stuff that you loved, ditch the stuff that wasn't going the way you wanted it to go... I don't mean this to sound like I'm a Pollyanna, but perhaps this is really an opportunity to find the freedom that you wrote of earlier in the post...?
    OK, that said, I've got to go back up all the stuff that I've neglected to save. :-)

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  8. Maddison10:33 PM

    Oh, Sue, I am so sorry for you! I have a similar story (although, not as bad). Years ago, I had a really special journal with all of my very first poems in it, it was something I had been working in for a couple of years. I (stupidly) set my bag down on the ground in public to talk to someone and when I looked down to grab my bag, someone had slyly stolen my journal (and to boot) my wallet when I was unawares. I still feel pangs of loss and anger - mostly at myself for being so careless. I've also typed term papers and not saved them only to *somehow* have them deleted and gone. I know your pain!

    Jill - I am just the same way! I always come up with these GREAT comebacks sometimes hours, days and even months later! Darn it!!

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  9. I just spent an entire day (with breaks here and there--I do have a job...and kind of a life) reading your blog. I wish I could say something funny so you'll like me, but I'm too tired.
    However, I don't want you to die as your threaten you will so wanted to comment. I loved the blog and I will be back.

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  10. Oh, I feel your pain. I lost a whole 40 page translation that way too. I let our a wail that would wake the dead. My daughter lost all her downloaded stuff from i-tunes and all her photos too! It was so sad, I will never trust a big bad computer again!

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  11. A portable hrad drive can die? OMG! Seriously? I just transfered 20,000 pictures onto on before Christmas. Is this not safe? Yikes! I hear you.

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  12. I feel like sending you flowers. That is so ... AWFUL. Just a tragedy. And while it might be "small" in the grand scheme of life, it's certainly a gut-punch for those of us who write.

    I'm so, so sorry.

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  13. I'm so sorry, Sue. What a lot of work to lose.
    Reminds me of my parents throwing out almost all my journals when I left for college. It was mostly meaningless, but still...

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  14. I am so sorry. What a painful loss.

    But the skills you developed by writing it all down are still there, and your new stuff may be even better through the pain of the loss.

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  15. yikes. i'm so sorry.

    maybe you need a second and third opinion? i'm still hoping that your tech guy was wrong and that some one out there can perform the recovery.

    i'm stealing your daydreaming idea. don't we all need an alternate life?

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  16. Yeah!! I found my peeps! I was always told not normal to daydream.

    It's all gone?? I am so sorry! I read a series of books - 7 total and when it was finished I mourned for weeks knowing I would never get to read anything more. Yes, I'm dorky but I can just imagine how you feel about losing something.

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  17. I'm sorry about the loss of your writings -- it just means you get to put your active brain to good use and come up with new stuff.

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  18. I'm so sorry . . . so so sorry. But I think it will be okay, really I do.

    Last year, my best friend died and with her died my journal - the thousands-plus emails we sent each other for three years that I didn't save because I was using an office email account and I figured I'd just have her copy it all for me someday. I was so so so sad - then a year later, her old coworkers (not even the ones from the time of her death, older than that) cracked her old email, and used it to crack her gmail. Or something.

    Anyway, the point is, I got my journal and it was all okay. I'm not saying I think you'll magically recover the work you lost, but I think somehow things will work out okay. Good luck.

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  19. Nooooo!

    I have never forgiven Amy to this day for burning that manuscript. What an awful thing, to lose those all those irreplaceable words.

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  20. GASP! Ugh, that is so horrible. (The losing the drive, not the you writing stuff part.) I hate losing things I've written or pictures I've taken. When my cell phone fell in the pool, I cried becasue there were adorable pictures of Jules on there I'd never uploaded to the computer, and now they are gone. I am so sad for you. That SUCKS.

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  21. Darn darn darn darn darn!! Is there any way you remember any of it? I'll gladly fly to Utah and be your transcriber...whad'ya say? :) So sorry for your loss friend.

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  22. Lots of Leslie8:50 AM

    I FEEL YOUR PAIN!

    That's the best I can do - just merely offer a written condolence :-(

    I wrote and took classes for 4 years to get my Masters Degree (I know that is an incredibly long time and I know other people take only 2 years, but I am defending those 4 years by offering the caviat that I had children in grade school at the time). The last semester (the one where I got the letter from my university saying I had NO more chances to take classes, that it was over after this semester if I didn't finally ante up) the hard drive on my computer crashed and took my Master's Thesis with it...ARRRGGGGH! I was sure it was OVER! Now, I HAD printed up chapters of the cursed thing, but not printed versions of the edited chapters that I had been working so feverishly on with my board. It was terrible. I got it done. I got my Master's. I opened up a free email account and forwarded stuff to it evermore. We are always SO SMART in hindsight, aren't we?

    RIP little hard drive. RIP.

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  23. Oh, no! I always daydream that I might just begin writing some day but haven't gotten past a few lame attempts at brainstorming...then never going back to that particular writing. I can't imagine what it would be like to get to that point and then lose it all!!! Good luck!

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  24. This is terrible. All I can say is that I hope you keep writing, writing, writing in spite of the loss!

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  25. Anonymous6:25 PM

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