27 December 2010

Accidents: Vanishing Manuscript Syndrome

By Anna C. Bowling

One of the greatest disasters known to writerkind can happen in any number of ways. A power outage could do it, or a pet chewing on the extension cord. "Save" and "delete" are only a mouse click apart. There's the dreaded internet virus that brings the blue screen of death. Maybe the files from the old word processing program aren't compatible with the new one and the writer is now looking at a file full of incomprehensible symbols.

Vanishing Manuscript Syndrome has five unique stages (with apologies to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross):

Denial: This can't be real. All that work, all that research, all those characters and their world where the writer lived and breathed for all that time, gone in a blink.

Anger: Family members may rush in upon hearing the animalistic roar that comes from the writer's den. The writer may malign the internet in general, the computer, the computer's power source, or whatever has made off with the best book ever. This isn't fair.

Bargaining: The writer may make appeals to their deity of choice and/or resident techy family member, promising extravagant rewards if the file can be saved.

Depression: What's the use? The book stunk anyway. Maybe this is a sign from the universe. Maybe the writer should forget about writing and go back to alligator wrestling or something less stressful.

Acceptance: Okay, that version is gone and it's not coming back. The writer could give up, but the characters are still there and still want their stories told. The writer searches for backup copies, or requests them from critique partners. Deep breath, beverage of choice, and open a new document. This version will be even better.

Have you ever had Vanishing Manuscript Syndrome? If not, how do you prevent it? How do you deal with recovering from this sort of accident?

Writing historical romances allows Anna C. Bowling to travel through time on a daily basis and make the voices in her head pay rent. Her current release, ORPHANS IN THE STORM, is available from Awe-Struck E-books.