When I was 8, my schoolteacher aunt sent us a Christmas gift in the form of a computer that her school was trashing.
It was one of those heavy, boxy, just-shy-of-a-building mainframe models, and other than the library computer, it was my first experience with the modern digital world.
I was enthralled.
Especially by some of the self-teaching programs that were still loaded onto it… in particular a typing program, which I used to teach myself to type.
I wrote my first two novels on my mom’s old typewriter. By my third novel, I realized this was going to be “my thing,” so I made the scary switch to writing books on the dinosaur-era MS Word program loaded onto that hand-me-down computer.
It wasn’t until I was halfway through my fourth novel — which is still my biggest single volume — that the aging technology caught up with me.
The trouble started when I was introduced to the concept that a single crash could erase all those months and months of creative effort.
I was determined to back up my work. So I inserted a floppy disk to save the data. Ironically, that’s what did me in. The old computer whirred, hummed, put up a blue progress bar, and…
Dead. Gone. By the time I got it turned back on, my work — over 800 pages of it — had completely vanished.
The only remnant of my heart and dreams was about 300 early pages I’d printed out and shoved into a binder. (Ink was expensive and the printer didn’t work right, either, which is why I didn’t have a full hard copy.)
For a minute I just stood there. Then I picked up that big, heavy binder bulging with the remnants of my life and tossed it into the trash can.
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