It’s too bad. A few days ago my computer crashed and I watched two thousand words from a story I’d been working on go bye-bye right before my eyes. Very literally, my story became half the guy it used to be. At first, I tried dealing with it like it was just another relationship gone sour. I went for a walk. I toyed with smoking a cigarette at nine in the morning. But when’s the last time a girl only went half away? Like with this story, I’ve still got the first half of it right there, saved March 2nd at 6:15 PM, staring back at me with that black bar blinking. Well doesn’t that just make it worse? I worked till one in the morning on it. It’s like getting dumped but still “being friends.” The story’s still there, technically, but the words stop way short of where I got them. It’s like meeting that fantastic new friend of yours for lunch. It’s terrible. You’re seeing her but you’re mostly just remembering what’s not there anymore.
Then again, I’ve lost stories before, and I know this won’t be the last time it happens. So I’d better start getting more used to it because I’m starting to think this is the way it’s meant to be. And I want to blame technology. It’s tempting. But even if I reached back in time for a typewriter in place of a computer—aside from the hipster jokes—things would only get worse: a periodical fire would break out, consuming my pages. Or a sniffing pack of loose A Christmas Story hounds, chomping them down to the last em dash. And well, I can always put out a fire—but dogs? I’ve never been able to say no to a dog. If it’s feeding them better than Iams, I might give them every poem and story and I got.
Reality check #1: Yeah, but were those vanished two thousand words even any good, dipshit?
Well, I thought they were. But the more I talk about it, the more I make it sound like I had a freaking Ray Carver story on my hands. Shit, if this blog were to right this second suck down the technological drain, I’d probably be telling you tomorrow all about the pure sexy magic that was lost—again!
Reality check #2: Give me a break. Deep down—you know you love it, Ramirez.
I mean, what else do writers do but try and illuminate shit with their struggles? It’s all material. So get your lips around that straw and suck. Bukowski blamed the whores. Gilb blamed a leaky paper bag. Bolaño blamed, well, no one, but he did kind of hate Isabella Allende. And it’s worth considering that if those two thousand words all came marching back from Microsoft Starter 2010 purgatory, it might be like: Well shit. I’ve lost pennies worth more than that.
But that’s the thing. I’ve been robbed. I’ve lost money. Laptops. Fake IDs. But the thing with all that stuff is that you can value what was lost. The fake ID cost forty, the laptop four hundred (yeah, yeah, it was a PC not a Mac, so what? It still stings). But the thing is, I can’t put a value on those two thousand words other than I kind of liked them. Not every one of them. But for the most part. It’s not like they were my children or anything, but they were more like my orphans and I was the headmaster, you know? Some were dicks, some were nice, some had potential, some were unfixably damaged, but still, they were all eating porridge together when that damn cafeteria exploded.
Reality Check #3: And of course you didn’t learn a thing, either…
Because I have yet to save this entire document.