I washed my book last night.
This isn’t some euphemistic editing term you’ve never heard of —I literally washed my book.
I’m a creature of habit, you see: every weekday morning after my early writing session, I take the flash drive on which I have my working copy of Pigeon and stick it in my pocket so I can work on it on breaks or print pages to edit at lunch.* Every evening, the first thing I do when I come home from work is take the flash drive out of my pocket and plug it into my laptop, whether or not I’m going to power it up right away or not (usually not).
And on Thursdays, I knock out a couple loads of laundry.**
Yesterday, Janie had an all-lower-school musical at 6:30, so I went straight there from work. After an hour of completely enjoyable mass chaos, we went home to sing Happy Birthday to Sunny, watch her open her presents,*** and eat cake.
Then I changed into my comfy pants and decided to start on the laundry.
About ten minutes after that, there was a brief physical and mental struggle as I tried to run to my laptop and the washing machine at the same time.
The laptop won, because I didn’t want to be a complete idiot or have to haul great wads of soaking wet cloth out of our front loader.
Twenty seconds later, when I was hauling great wads of soaking wet cloth out of our machine—and sticking my hands in cold wet pockets and cursing the fact that four out of six pairs of my work slacks are black and so is the &@%# flash drive-–my husband came in, surveyed the damage, and said, “What are you doing?”
“My book! I’ve washed my book!”
“Which—my book! My book—on the flash drive, it’s in my pocket, it’s in there, I washed it!”
Yes. Yes, that’s right. To his premenstrual, exhausted, and frantic wife who had just drowned ten months of work, this man said, Oh.
And yet he lives. Partly because I was knee-deep in wet laundry, which is both heavy and binding, but also because the next words out of his mouth were:
“But you made backups, right?”
I opened my mouth to scream denial to the heavens before collapsing in a sodden, inconsolable heap . . . then closed it and blinked at him.
Because I had. Not as recently as I would have wished, but I’d only lost three days of work instead of three weeks—or three months. Granted, eleven pages and a boatload of notes were gone . . . but that was survivable. Hellish, but survivable. I could recreate them . . .right?
And then I saw a black oblong thing by the cat’s bowl. I grabbed it and dried it off on my shirt. The cap wasn’t completely watertight, but the plug wasn’t too damp.
Then I did a series of sensible and remarkably undramatic things: I set it down and left it alone until morning, when it would be as dry as it was probably going to be. I took a deep breath or two, reassured the children that their mother was fine, mopped up the water, restarted my laundry,^ and began rebuilding those eleven pages.
I managed almost three before my nose hit the keyboard. Four more this morning.
After putting it off all day in superstitious angst, I plugged in the flash drive about an hour ago.
All my files, all my documents, all my darlings. Everything’s there, everything’s fine.
But if it hadn’t been—if my laptop hadn’t detected a thing . . . I’d still be okay. Not as okay as I would be if I’d backed up every single day—and guess what I’ll be doing from now on?—but okay in that moving-on-but-still-kicking-myself-in-the-head-for-a-week kind of way. I guess that’s good to know.
Almost as important as knowing for a fact that backing up files is Essential 101 stuff that does actually apply to me. And that I’m really, really lucky I’m not writing a completely different kind of post.^
Have a great weekend.
Imma lie down now.
*Emphasis added to reassure any co-workers or library supervisors who might have discovered that I blog. Hi! I love my job and I would rather lose sleep than moonlight. Seriously—take a look at my eye luggage sometime.
**I believe they call this foreshadowing. How’m I doing?
***Note to Mom and Dad: We were only halfway through the show when you called—but Sunny’s favorite gift was listening to you sing to her on speakerphone from my voice mail. Twice!
^I thought about it, as an April Fool’s Joke—but it wouldn’t have been funny. At all. But there is a punchline in this, just for April’s biggest Fool . . . I think I like those seven rebuilt pages better.