Friday, March 23, 2007

"Constant Vigilance!"

By G. Parker

My family is probably much like yours in that we’ve read all the Harry Potter books. In fact, I think I’ve read each one at least three times. One of my favorites is the Goblet of Fire. This is the book where Mad-Eye Moody is teaching the Defense Against The Dark Arts class. (Of course, we all know now that it wasn’t really him, but the guy still did a good job in the class.) My favorite part was where he would shout “Constant vigilance!” every so often and make everyone jump.

I think we need to keep that thought in mind, especially when it comes to how we store or save our writing. Do you use a computer? Do you save your stuff to the hard drive or do you save it to a disk? Do you write on paper and have reams and reams in filing cabinets? Whatever way you write, you need to think of how these precious words are being saved.

On a computer, the hard drive is great storage (if you’ve got gigs of space) but when that computer dies – where is your stuff? Can you get to it? No.

Using a filing cabinet is a good thing if it’s fireproof. (You might want to see if it’s ‘heat proof’ as well, or it won’t make much difference either way) If it’s not, then all that work is gone. Poof. Believe me, there’s nothing like trying to write from memory when you’ve figured you were finished with a story and now it’s gone. It doesn’t happen the same way – it’s never the same.

Fortunately, there are options all around. For the computer, I would recommend at least two things. One: Save your information on a CD every month or every week if you are writing volumes every day. Label those disks and make sure you back up everything you would hate to loose. Two: Save your things to a site off your computer. There are lots of free email sites that have gigs of storage. There are even places you can pay to store them if you’re really worried, but I don’t think we need to go that far. Yahoo is great for storage, or Gmail. But always have a good copy somewhere beside your home. A side note suggested by fellow blogger, C.L. Beck, is that it’s important to save under a different name if you want to keep different versions or drafts. That way you don’t confuse which version you have. Using dates, numbers or letters is a good way to designate the new file.

If you have heard of or use USB drives, they are great until you lose them. I had one I got for Christmas that hung around my neck. It was great, and I had lots of things stored on it—but it’s disappeared and I can’t find it. All that work is gone, and I’m not sure where I can find any of the things I’d stored on it. It makes me sick, and that is what prompted this blog.

For handwritten or printed sheets, I would recommend scanning them into a computer and saving them to disk as well. That way you don’t have to worry about the condition of the paper in 20 years, such as if the mice found their way into your filing cabinet, or the kids pulled something out to read and spilled punch on them, etc. I would also recommend copies being stored either at someone else’s house, or, if you really cherish them, in a safe deposit box. That would be pretty safe from most hazards.

The most important thing I want to stress though is CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Walking away from a typing stint without saving your document is a nightmare waiting to happen. ALWAYS save a major editing or large file of writing right after you’ve finished with it. You’ll never be sorry.

So, everyone say it with me: “Constant vigilance!”

(sniff) I'm so proud!

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