Getting your car stolen is the worst.
It’s even worse when a huge chunk of your writing since 9th grade — 11 years — is on a flash drive in your car. It’s even worse if you don’t back it up, because you’re a big dummy.
The stupidest — keeping your 5 year long travel/new experiences journal in your car, because “you just don’t know where the road will take you” (how romantic of you, Becky…)— a journal that spans from a Spain/Germany/Belgium trip, getting a new job, moving to different places around Wisconsin, moving jobs, an especially few memorable trips to NYC and Seattle and Colorado, a solo road trip log that lead to moving across the country. How I felt about LA — the struggles and the beauty of it. Whenever I felt I had a particularly memorable experience, this was my go-to notebook. I still had a ton of empty pages in there — pages I hoped to fill as I kept up with my adventures.
I also had another notebook — a roaming thought board for a story idea I’ve been working on for the past 4 years (Death’s Intern, for anyone who’s familiar). This story idea has been my baby. Within that notebook, I’ve worked that idea from novel to short story compilation to graphic novel to script to graphic novel back to short story anthology loosely tied by an overarching plot. I felt I was finally getting the swing of it, so I decided to keep it in my back seat in case the muse came to me.
I didn’t just lose these things though. The straw that broke the camel’s back — most of this was found on the side of the road, ripped apart, scribbled on, and peed on.
This is what I dealt with this weekend.
After hearing this, you bet your ass I went through the five stages of grief on hyperdrive. The denial stage: “Oh, I can rewrite that easily enough. They were my ideas. It’s not like I’ve changed that much.”
Then, as I heard more and more about my stuff, like an angry freight train thoughts about the different memories I documented in my journal, the different ways I shaped Death’s Intern, how I had dreamed of releasing alternate versions of the story once I “made it big” (not likely — but a girl can dream) ran through my mind. These people had no idea what they were destroying to me — my passion, my work, my life. Anger set in as I thought of them laughing and destroying my work.
I called them a ton of names I’ll probably regret sometime in the future (maybe), but to be PG about it, let’s just say I said impulsive and destructive.
Maybe I skipped the bargaining stage, but the depression stage took over like a cliche shadow — maybe they’re right. Maybe my work is a piece of shit. Maybe I did get too caught up in my own head as I was writing — maybe it does look like shitty pretentious dribble. The idea I thought was hilarious and foolproof — obviously someone thinks it’s shitty enough to pee all over and toss on the side of the road.
To put it into a physically manifested perspective, I’ve been wearing the same dress since Friday morning, and it’s 11pm on Monday. It’s been rough, but I haven’t been making it easier for myself.
I haven’t quite hit the acceptance stage yet, but I can feel it coming closer. In all honesty, it was probably kids/young adults simply not giving a shit. I realize it wasn’t personal, and the chances they actually read anything they destroyed is zero to none. They truly did not give a shit, and as difficult as it is, it’s not something I should take personally. If they had stolen the car next to mine, they would have done the same thing to that person’s stuff. Maybe they just really had to go and didn’t want to stop in a stolen car. Who fuckin’ knows. All I know is I should not take it as some thought out vengeful attack — it was stupid, and therefore I should treat it as stupid. (and I should probably change my dress)
If anything, I’m hoping this will be a lot worse than any rejection slips that come my way going forward. Unless I really decide to go avant garde, I’m pretty sure a publisher won’t piss on my work, scribble on it, then send it back.
That’s not the main point I want to get across here though (I swear I’m getting there…)
The main point is that it was pretty stupid to keep all of these things in my car — honestly, anything could have happened. For all I know, my car could have started on fire last week, or could have gotten into an accident where my back seat was so mangled none of my notebooks were recoverable. By not having a back-up, I’m honestly surprised something hadn’t happened sooner — be it spilled coffee or wind or a friend who decides to puke/bodily function all over my back seat. Worse things have happened.
I’m usually pretty good about keeping my work backed up on the cloud or on my computer — always keeping ideas I truly care about and know I will return to in at least two places, or at least a place I’d be able to recover it anywhere I went (google docs/evernote). It’s something that’s so easy to forget when you’re in the moment. However with the different integrations with mobile/desktop apps, it’s easy to sync your ideas on multiple platforms, to use the cloud to ensure whatever your write does not have a chance of being lost permanently.
Many of these ideas — I know I will not be able to recover. My journal especially. There are a lot of experiences in there that I truly think are absolutely beautiful (call me a narcissist, I’ll take it), but would not remember if I did not go back and read it from time to time. I used this as a thought board for a lot of my short stories — easily accessible mind snippet hat grabs.
But that’s my own fault.
Please learn from my mistakes — back your shit up.