Backup or troubles (in your old kit bag)

Not me ... but it could be!

Not me … but it could be!

When I was a teenager at school, I used to enjoy teaching myself BASIC on their Sharp MZ80K computers. One day, the school bought an Apple ][. It had very good graphics (for the time) and new commands to learn. One of the new commands was PLOT. It allowed the programmer to draw a dot on the screen at a given coordinate.

I realised I could draw quite complex shapes by giving the computer a list of coordinates to draw. Being a geeky sort of child (but you worked that out), I bought an A1 size piece of graph paper and traced an image of the UK on to it. For the next three weeks, in my spare time, I transcribed all the coastline’s coordinates into the Apple ][. When I’d finished, the program I’d written drew an accurate image of the UK on the screen. I was very pleased and, more importantly, my friends were impressed. One told a teacher who came along to see my work.

I loaded the program I had previously saved on my floppy disc but, to my horror, I got an error (Bad checksum, if I remember). It meant that the work was lost … except I had backed up my work. I put in my backup floppy disc and reloaded the program. It also didn’t load. I was devastated. In an instant, I had lost three weeks of work. The teacher walked off laughing … but that’s another story.

One backup is not enough

It taught me a good lesson: One backup is not enough.

When I hear people brag (and it often is a brag) that they don’t backup their work I feel obliged to point out the error of their ways.

To make sure I don’t lose any of my writing (or anything else) I always do the following:

  1. Save my WIP each week as a new dated version on my laptop.
  2. Copy this file onto a flash memory stick.
  3. Email a copy to myself.
  4. Print out a hard copy, which I carry around with me.

If my laptop crashes, I have other versions elsewhere. If I delete a section I later decide I want, I can go back to older files to recover it. When the formatting messed up in my WIP, I was able to copy the style from a previous version and fix it (it’s also useful if you ever get into any legal challenges over plagiarism).

If you choose not to backup your work properly, you are choosing to lose it. You have been warned!

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How did I get here?

As I sit in my room at 6:40am on a cold Sunday morning, I wonder what the hell I am doing!

It all started at Christmas, just two months ago, when I had an idea for a story. I often get ideas for stories but this time was different. It was different because I started to write it down.

Usually, I create stories in my head and say to my wife, ‘this would make a good book.’ She listens patiently, or not so, and I let it float away whilst I get on with my life.

So, what was different about this story? Nothing really. What was different was me. I decided that I was no longer ‘a reader’ but ‘a reader AND a writer’. To give you an idea how big this is for me: I last wrote a story at high school.

Now I’m near fifty and I’m suddenly calling myself a writer?

A writer – Someone who writes with the intention of sharing their writing.

An author – Someone who writes and has published their writing.

I don’t know if these are valid but, as I step into this exciting new world as a writer, I fully intend, one day, to be able to call myself an author too.