02 December 2012

Lessons From a Laptop Lost

by Carrie Bailey

I did what most writer's do. Learn from my mistake.

Ironically, it happened at a meeting for a writer's group in Wellington, New Zealand. It was my first time attending and the week before Nanowrimo begin. The members were adequately odd and percolating with new plots ideas and half-baked characters. The venue was a decent coffee shop in the central business district. I brought my backpack, laptop, purse and my enthusiasm. I left with all but the laptop. Sure, I still have the power cord, but little good that was going to to do me.

This is where I start tossing my toys and crying like a baby. I don't care if my insurance covers the cost of a shiny new Macbook Pro-I'm pouting as I write this. I had images, book covers, old website content, stories and other tiny pieces of my soul I'd not yet prepared to go online, but still worked on as though my life depended on it. It's been a month since the laptop was lost and I haven't recovered. I had transferred files from two previous laptops and two desktops from the era when the screens were deeper than they were wide. Old resumes, pictures of my son, my entire collection of illegally downloaded music and videos were on that laptop.

I will never be whole again. Having read the tragedy I just described, I hope you will never be whole again either. Share my pain. I have ample amounts. Pain gives meaning to life, right?

When I first discovered my laptop was gone, I didn't believe it. I thought my boyfriend had moved it somewhere no one in their right mind would keep it. It happens. One time, he came home drunk and chewed on my maxi-pads thinking they were chips. I didn't find them for a week, but the truth of the laptop came more slowly. It wasn't at my apartment or at a friend's where I had been. The whole process of accepting the loss was confused and traumatic like the time I broke up with a guy who then hooked up with a guy who was also a guy. Only, after that incident, I was happy my then ex-boyfriend had come to terms with his sexuality. I don't feel that way about my missing laptop.

Eventually, I dealt with the search, the police report and the insurance claim. I opened the box to my perfectly fileless, but shiny new laptop with no cracks, stains, warranty voiding dents and none of the residual charcoal bits stuck into the corners that mine had. The new one lacks character, but more importantly, it lacks soul, those bits of my soul that had yet to become full stories.

It must have been a premonition, but only a few days before it was lost-before Nanowrimo began, I saved my most important novel to Google drive. It was there safe, although the character files and back story were largely no more.

Google drive will give you 5 GB free storage.

Take my advice. Back up every single last story and file you have on your laptop now. Need more than 5 GBs? You can pay for more or open multiple Gmail accounts. It's up to you, but don't lose your data. Protect your stories. Keep your characters alive. Do what must be done.

Oh by the way, to whoever has my laptop...

Yeah, you, that guy who tried to access my bank accounts since I hit all of those "save password" tabs over the last two years I owned and used that old thing.

Ha! I've already changed my passwords and written you into a short story. No, no, death was too good for you. You're stuck in a metal tube, without light, unable to die because aliens release nutrients that are absorbed through your skin, no one to talk to and no way to escape...forever!


  1. Oh, Carrie, I feel you. I had my laptop stolen out of my kitchen a little over a year ago, and I still kick myself for having backed up next to nothing. Although, given how much stuff I need to be backing up right now, I still haven't fully learned my lesson.

    I love the idea of writing that ass into a short story. I should do that. My thief tried to delete what files I had on Dropbox, and I'm still disappointed I changed the password before really messing with the jerk's brain. Given a second chance, I would upload a bunch of files to DB with titles like, "This is a stolen computer." "I can see you." "You should give this back to me."

    1. That sounds incredibly therapeutic... :D

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  3. Carrie, I believe the comment above mine is spam. That's my first service of the day. My second sercice is to say I'm bummed for you. I have NOT put my mac on time machine on our home's hard drive, but I do have my book saved to my kindle as a PDF and i also mailed it to myself on my G+ account as an attachment. If you mail it to yourself or a friend as an attachment that helps too. I've never had a precious device stolen, touch wood, but I feel for those who have. I need reset all my passwords anyway (I do this every DST/EST change of clocks) and I'm a bit behind.

    1. You know, the funny thing about spam is that it's annoying, but it also means a certain amount of circulation happens on your site-enough to draw attention. Anyway, I try to think about it that way.

  4. I also lost my laptop before few days. It was really bad time for me

  5. Hey! How do you think, have your writting skills improved recently?