I first started working on my memoir, which is about rebirth in every sense (yes I am claiming the physical too, because I actually flipping died) in December 2012. It wasn’t that me working on this book was a surprise, it was about being ready. Because it was in 2009 that I died, and all of 2009 and 2010 I spent fighting to just stay on this physical plane. And after a miracle – or maybe a dozen depending on who you ask and what you consider miraculous – I was still standing. And this led to a whole mental, emotional and spiritual overhaul and transformation…
But writing it is hard. Until December 2012, I couldn’t. I would sit, and after just a few minutes I would start to cry. Because going back… you have to relive it. In my case I had to relive death, not just the actual act of dying, but the “living death” that was my reality for over a year. And then I had to accept that I was given this gift, something I did not earn, could not earn, while others lost the battle with a foe one cannot fight. It’s a lot to fucking process.
And then the book started to happen, and I spent at least six hours writing (just writing) every day for more than two months. Most of my book was complete… and then the unthinkable happened.
In February 2013, my husband and I went to Disney World for a cousin’s wedding. It was a great trip, though what happened when we left may forever taint the experience. My flash drive, the one with my book on it, and so many other pieces of writing: four polished, ready-to-publish short stories, a novella, more than thirty poems and other passion projects were on this drive… was lost.
Now I’m not completely stupid. I backed that drive up to a hard drive on my other laptop, which was let at home. I first realized the drive was missing on the airplane home, and I was thoroughly freaked out, but I just kept thinking, “Well even if it’s lost, I’ll pull everything up when I get home and back that up on my spare.” But it didn’t happen that way.
See, when I got home, I went to turn on my laptop and it crashed – the hard drive completely failed! This was not an old computer or one that had been giving me trouble, so it was completely unexpected. We sent out the drive to a few different companies to see if anything could be retrieved – experts at all things data-recovery… and nothing. My writing was lost. I was done.
So, I did what any sane writer/person would do in that situation. I did not get out of bed for three weeks. I refused to eat. Didn’t speak. Wouldn’t come downstairs to watch TV. I wouldn’t walk the dog or do other things that usually brought me joy. I deserved this depression-induced coma. I thought of everything I lost and could never get back. I focused more on my book, because the other stories were fiction, and while I could not rewrite them from memory… they were fiction. When it’s your story, your life, and fucking excruciating to write in the first place… how do you go back and do it all over again?
Well, I didn’t get my book back, and since I have rewritten the monster, and pushed it, reworked it, taken out, added, sent out, done everything I can think to do with it, so now I have put it away, because it is a monster – and I need to regroup… but everything else… all that other writing. I FOUND.
When I was busy dying, or trying not to die again any given day, I emailed my stories to a friend, hoping her feedback and working on my writing, my craft, would give me necessary distraction. It was an email address that had been hacked twice and therefore I have not used for years – YEARS. I haven’t used it since 2010 actually. But the other day, I was in the account, looking for something else. The fact that I remembered my post-hack password, which is convoluted and random is a testament that it was meant to be… (Anyone who knows me, knows I do not believe in meant-to-be’s, but not sure the humor worked there.) Every story, my novella, all of my poetry was in a series of a couple of dozen emails from long ago. Found in an email account I hadn’t accessed even once in several years…
I didn’t even remember sending them to this friend until I stumbled upon one message with my story attached. And then another. And another. So I started to go through message after message and effectively mine out the lost writing like it was gold. And in a way, it really was. Thirty poems, four short-stories and one novella later… I am a very happy camper. A lot of the poetry, I don’t even remember writing. I’m on a treasure hunt, and seeing pieces neglected for years that are ready to see the light of day, and others asking for modest attention before making their own journeys out into the world.
It’s so amazing, reading through everything. To see the writer I was back then, as opposed to the writer I am now (personally I prefer the writer I was – much more creative, much bigger cajones). It’s made me do a lot of thinking about who I am as a writer and as a person. What I have to say – what I want to put out in the world, and it’s reminded me that no matter what – fiction, poetry, essay or memoir – my writing is my truth, but it is also my art. And I am an artist. (Thank God, I’m not just painfully misunderstood anymore – because you know every artist is – it’s like a prerequisite. 😛 )
My “finds” have reenergized me in a way. I’m not just an essayist or a memoirist; I am a storyteller, I am a poet. And while some of these pieces I know are not ready, cannot be ready – they must be tended to… others are screaming to let them out. Send them out. Let them be heard. And it’s all me. My writing, little pieces of my heart, my soul – put into a word processing program and spat back out into art. Some people will hate it, and some maybe not.
All I know is I can’t remember the last time I was so excited! I never realized everything else beyond my book that I lost because of a couple of technology fails… But now that I have it back I realize what was missing, and am so thankful it is not missing anymore!
Well back to sifting through my newfound loot – who knows when I will come back up for air! 😛