Friday, September 28, 2007

A La Recherche Du Blog Perdu

Among the worst things that can happen to a writer is the sudden, unexplained loss of work. Whether the piece in question was the result of serious mental labour or a burst of inspiration, the sickening feeling that accompanies the first few moments when it is found missing have been among the worst moments of my career, if not life. Losing work makes creating subsequent work all the more difficult; after all, what is the point of continuing if, through no fault of one's own, it might all be for naught?

Then again, I've always majored in drama-queen with a minor in defeatist.

It's happened to me any number of times, and each time it's as if a child of mine was abducted, and the body never found. Once I left a complete short story in the back of a cab; another time my grandmother cleaned my room, and took away a chapter of a novel by mistake, buried in some pseudo-archaeological mess of my own devising. Recently, I have lost five chapters of a novel; although fortunately I have a hard copy of it somewhere, the original file is not to be found within my documents folder, and I never would have deleted it, because frankly it's brilliant.

More often than not, in these cases, the abductor has been a computer; it happened to me - again - this afternoon.

This piece, you see, is haunted by the that which came before it.

I'd published a post called Remembering... Pierre Elliott Trudeau on this, the anniversary of his death, and gone back to add a link to it that I'd previously missed. I added the link, then in switching between the Edit window and the Compose window it was gone: a YouTube link and three elegant paragraphs, cast down the cyber bunny hole. Despite not saving the changes, when I hit the back button to get me back to the top, all was lost.

I suppose it does serve a purpose; if nothing else, it makes me extra careful subsequently. I will probably save each blog post I write on the clipboard for the rest of the year now, forcing myself to go to an extreme that I shouldn't have to, all because of the savage whims of a heartless machine.

I never try to recreate these lost writings, but instead have learned to let them go. In my spiritual tradition, any willing sacrifice is repaid threefold, and so despite my utter rage (born of frustration) I make myself let it go, secure in the knowledge that in some way it will return.

I suppose losing the piece was the cosmic way of reminding me to leave well enough alone. Had I not bothered to add that extra link, the piece wouldn't have been lost. It could also be the universe's way of reminding me that the computer I occasionally blog on during my breaks at work (a PC running Internet Explorer) is a Gatesian shitbox that's better for little else besides data entry and the absorption of verbal abuse.

Whatever the reasons for taking it, it's well-and-truly gone. Sentiment is a virus I can't seem to shake; events like this one, though, represent the best cure.
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