I’ll never forget the feeling I felt as the help agent told me my computer crashed. It was Freshman year of college and I had just finished my 7-page paper for my English final. It was perfect. You know that place when you put the last period and you can feel that this is the best it will ever be? That’s where I was. I saved my paper and went to email it to myself to print it in the computer lab downstairs. Suddenly, my screen went black. I couldn’t turn the laptop back on. I plugged the charger in, nothing. I started to panic. I eventually found the user’s manual that came with my brand-new laptop, that had been purchased the year before. I contacted the help desk, and the agent walked me through some steps. Nothing was working. As he told me, “It seems that the computer crashed, there’s nothing more we can do,” I felt a lump in my throat. I hung up the phone and immediately called my mom in tears. She was able to calm me down and I went downstairs to email my teacher who was a grad student. She was incredibly gracious and gave me an extension to finish my paper. I thankfully wasn’t starting from scratch as she had already reviewed our rough drafts. At that moment, I vowed that my next laptop would be a Mac.
Fast forward 8 years later, and my laptop had crashed again, and I was ready to purchase my first MacBook. I loved that laptop. I discovered my love of writing on that laptop and started several books on that laptop. Until one day, I went to turn it on, and it wouldn’t work. I took it to the repair shop, and they told me they could try and extract the data, but it was gone. I stood there, 14 years older and found myself again on the phone with my mom who offered to help me pay for a brand-new laptop. I left the store with my new rose gold MacBook Air. I tried to get the data from my old laptop, but it is gone forever. I’ve lost at least 5 books and countless poems that I had been working on. And not only did I lose my work, but I lost the courage that I had built up with my writing.
It’s taken me over 7 months to essentially get back into writing again after my laptop died. I realize now that I need to mourn the work that I’ve lost. In those pages were my ideas, characters I had built, stories that were still being written, parts of me that I had yet to explore. I discovered that I loved to write poetry on that laptop. I feel as though a death has occurred. And you might think that it’s a bit dramatic, but the words I wrote, I will never get back. Unfortunately, I had not saved my work to the iCloud or to an external hard drive, even after my experience in college. Some pieces I had submitted to different publications, so I had some things to start with. But I am essentially starting from scratch. I don’t know if I will ever go back to the pieces that I lost. But this experience has taught me some very important lessons:
- Save your work: I now have my files automatically synced to my iCloud files and have an external hard drive that I use. As helpful as machines are, there are still machines. And everything breaks down.
- It’s ok to not know what to do next: It took me 5 months to take my laptop in to be repaired. This was because I needed to save the money, and I needed time. To process what had happened and to be ok with the idea that I might never get my work back.
- Starting over isn’t always a bad thing: Am I happy that I’ve lost my work? No. I was halfway through writing one book and there is one poem that I am truly sorry was lost. But sometimes what’s necessary is a new beginning. I have now drilled down on the books that I want to focus and finish writing by the end of this year, and my aunt bought me a book of poetry prompts that I am working through. I’m not sure that I would have had the same level of focus if my work hadn’t been lost.
- I am still a writer even if I don’t write I am trying to get back into the habit of writing every day, but even if I don’t write for 6 months, I am still a writer. I am still a writer with a book that has 4500 words as I was with a book that had 37,000 words. I think we assume to be something it must be grand, or we must be successful by the world’s viewpoint; but that’s not true. You are who you are even if you’re the only one who knows it.
I don’t know what the future holds for my writing, but I do know that I enjoy it. It provides me a creative outlet as well as an outlet for my emotions. It grounds me. I hope we are all able to find something that gives us joy. We all deserve it.