Saturday, 22 February 2014

Panic Attack

You know that icy stab of fear that penetrates your chest when you realise you've made a huge mistake?

Like when you leave the house and realise you forgotten to switch off your hair straightener (done it). Or when you hear that the assignment you thought was due next week is actually due tomorrow (done that one too). Or rolled over in bed to check how many more precious minutes you have in bed, only to realise you hit the off button as opposed to the snooze button and you should be halfway up the motorway by now (definitely not a pleasant one to experience).

Well I experienced that familiar sensation yet again tonight, only this time it was much worse, much more prolonged and induced a whole level of panic that I didn't even know existed (which is surprising because at this stage panic is practically my middle name ; at least it suits me better than Catherine anyway).

Are you ready to hear what happened to cause this unexpected surge in my anxiety levels? The incident that caused my heart rate to achieve record levels of speed tonight, which has left a buzzing sensation still lingering in my ears half an hour later.

Ready? Okay. Here goes.

I lost 12,000 words of my novel.

*Dramatic pause for effect*

Still here? It's okay, I am too. Just about.

I actually lied exaggerated as a means of dramatic effect to hook you in. I should have written that I thought I had lost 12,000 words because that's actually what happened.  But to be fair, when you think you lose 12,000 words (aka months of writing for me) it's the exact same feeling as actually losing them.

I did manage to recover the 12,000 words although I do believe I've lost a few years off my life expectancy as a trade off.

It's entirely my own fault and I blame myself fully. But most of all, I blame my rubbish netbook and the battery that inhabits it; it is truly evil personified.

Since our lovely wedding last December, I've really tried to distract myself from lamenting the big day with writing but I haven't been too successful. I've had bursts of creative periods in the last six weeks but the truth is that I'm struggling to prioritise my novel again now that the wedding is no longer top of the list. I haven't been taking it seriously as in I haven't dedicated times of my week to write, I haven't kept note of my word count each week and worst of all, sacrilegious even, (deep breath) I haven't been backing it up.

Before the wedding I was ever so diligent with backing my writing up, to the point of obsessive. I backed it up after each writing session, even if I only managed to write two sentences. I placed such high value on each word as a way of making the story flow and come to life that I couldn't imagine having to go back and recapture the essence and effect of something that I'd already written.

Unfortunately, my diligence began to slip and I soon found myself starting to slip into increasingly lazy patterns. After I reached 18,000 words, I stopped using the trusty USB that had become my writing sidekick and started saving my novel only to my netbook. What my rationale for this change was, I'm not sure, but if I could go back to 18,000 words and give myself a hefty kick up the arse, rest assured I would gladly do so.

12,000 words later, I'd been flying high at 30,000 words for a while. After a few nights of avoidance and general procrastination I decided to grab the bull by the horns and do some actual writing tonight. After several moments of repeatedly jabbing the power button and checking the charger, the stabbing feeling set in. My laptop was not turning on and my novel was trapped inside it.

Cue hair pulling, expletive-laden cries, cushion punching and several thoughts about flinging the netbook out the window. It was undoubtedly the longest 20 minutes of my life (and I'm including watching Kildare being beaten by 17 points against Dublin in that).

Thankfully, in what I can only describe as a "eureka" moment, I decided to take the battery out and charge the netbook the old fashioned desktop way. I genuinely don't think I've ever been as happy to see a blue light and hear the familiar whirring of a computer starting up as I was tonight.

Needless to say, I backed up the novel immediately (after showering the screen with kisses) and decided to document my experience in this blog as a sort of life lesson. Just as soon as my hands stopped shaking and my vision came back into focus.

The morals of this tale?

1. Always back up your work, no matter how short and or how stupid it is.
2. Stick to a writing regime and don't get sloppy or lazy, no matter how unbelievably tempting it is (and it will be).
3. Never solely rely on one piece of technology.
4. Always have an emergency stash of chocolate prepared for emergency purposes when you ignore the above three pieces of advice.

You have been warned!