A good writer friend of mine recently experienced the unthinkable: a complete hard drive failure resulting in the loss of months of written work. As he and I discussed a section of reconstructed text last night, he explained that the artists he’d told of his misfortune responded with shock and dismay, while the tech friends he’d told simply admonished, “You should always back up your computer!”
Well, in case you haven’t already proven this axiom on your own, ‘hard drives ALWAYS crash when the data isn’t backed up.’ (Besides that, “I told you so’s” aren’t going to help an artist in this situation.)
I’m guessing that we’ve all found ourselves the victims of lost work at some point in our careers. When have you found yourself scratching your head over a draft or a sketch wishing you had just stayed up a couple more hours to finish your thoughts? When have you written something down only to find that it stayed in your pockets with the cigarette butts and used kleenex when you put the whole mess in the washer? When have you put weeks of sleepless nights into a project only to dump your coffee on the final draft?
We all experience creative losses at some point. The question is, how do we reconstruct and move on when a precious piece of our creations goes missing?
Years ago when I got serious about my writing, I began to subscribe to the philosophy of creative recycling. This is a completely fabricated philosophy which assumes that anything I’ve created and lost will somehow be recycled and reemerge in a new form in some other creative endeavor.
No, I have no proof for this theory. However, after having found myself in my friend’s shoes on more than one occasion, I’ve had to let go of the notion that anything I could create exists in any sort of permanent, perfect form. (Conservation of information, impermanence, and all that jazz…)
How do you recover when you lose a piece of your work? Do you find that it’s never quite as excellent as you remember, or do you find that being forced to start from scratch improves your creation?
How do you work to prevent massive data loss? Notes? Data backups? Photographic memory?
Yes, yes… scurry off now to backup your c:\ drive! We’ll wait.