I recently finished the fifth revision of my fantasy novel, and I have spent the past weeks trying to decide what to write next. There are several options: continue with the sequel, which I have written two hundred pages for, revise one of my other two novels, start on something new, or complete one of several novels I started years ago, yet my frustration does not come from indecision.
This morning I tried to locate the horror novel I began writing in 2005. Over the years, I intended to finish it--the horror novel was more than halfway done. I even went as far as completing a screenplay a few years ago to use as an outline, incorporating a lot of dialogue and all the major events and characters. I assured myself it was stowed away safely, waiting for me.
I back-up every story I write. I have a stack of CDs and flash drives in a desk drawer, and going through them this morning, reviewing everything I had written since the first computer I owned in college, I discovered my horror novel had not saved correctly; there were only 24 pages, when there should have been over three hundred.
After I cursed and double-checked my storage devices and triple-checked my storage devices, I berated myself for not opening the file after I thought to save it. Eight years ago, when I upgraded my failing computer, I should have made sure everything I saved was correct before I wiped the hard drive and disposed of the tower and monitor. Shamefully, my music compilations received more attention at the time, and my novel is gone with no hope of return.
Let my carelessness stand as an example to any writer that reads this. Back-up your work. Keep your files updated. Make sure your saves are proper. Keep every draft. Duplicate every line, even the ones you hate. Otherwise, years from now, you'll be like me and wish you had a time machine to punch the old version of yourself in the face until they understand to care for their stories like a newborn baby.