Lost story


I screamed, along with a slew of obscenities and a bruising, double-fist-pounding on my desk. If my computer could, I’m sure it would’ve had a hearty chuckle.

In a boneheaded move, I used an older story I’d written and saved on my computer as the template for the latest story I’d just finished typing up. Instead of hitting “save as” and creating a new file name for this story − like I was supposed to do − I accidentally hit “save” instead. In one swift keystroke, my original story was overwritten and permanently erased.

The idea of using an older story as a template was that it was supposed to save me time and trouble. I use this shortcut all of the time and it usually isn’t a big deal. Except when it is. And yeah, I would set up and use a real template, except, I haven’t been able to figure out how to do this.

The good news? In spite of my stupidity, I have a hard copy of the for-all-intents-and-purposes now-deleted story. The bad news? I haven’t a clue where that hard copy might be located within the three foot pile of the other hard copies of stories I’ve edited and re-edited that sits on the floor next to my desk. I decided I’d find it later. The matter wasn’t urgent.

That was a mistake.

Unfortunately, research (don’t ask me which research, I don’t remember the details − just the gist) but, research indicates that memory gives precedence to “To Do” items you haven’t finished aka backburnered items over other “To Do” items. In other words, the moment I decided to put off finding my story in “the stack,” I was in trouble.

On a daily basis, I hear my inner voice nag, “Uhm, excuse me, but you still need to find that lost story you stupidly overwrote. You’re not going to forget, are you? It was a really good story. It’s too bad you lost it in the first place. But now that you have, it isn’t going to re-write itself. When is it that you’re going to find that story and retype it again?”

Telling my brain to shut the ‘F’ up, does little good.

My inner voice has been bugging the shit out of me for over a year now. A few weeks ago, I arrived at my breaking point. I finally decided the time had come to retrieve the hard copy of my story, retype it and re-save it on my computer − even if it took an entire afternoon. After glancing at “the stack,” though, I realized an entire afternoon might stretch out over a few days − or weeks.

This realization provided inspiration in the form of a brilliant idea. Before immersing myself in the intimidating stack of the eight-plus-reams of hard copy stories, I decided it would behoove me to take a quick look through old files on my computer to see if I had an earlier version of the overwritten story saved under a different name. Sometimes, I’ll revise a story several times. In this process, I’ll often end up saving evolving versions of a work-in-progress. When that happens, it isn’t uncommon for the initial working title to change as well.

I’m glad I took the time to look.

As I suspected, my overwritten story, Metaphorical Squirrels, began its evolution under another unlikely title, Imogene. Imogene provided me with enough detail that I was able to satisfactorily recreate a newly polished, finalized version of Metaphorical Squirrels. Of course, it didn’t turn out exactly like the original − how could it? − but I liked this latest version enough to declare my backburnered task finally done. Crisis averted! I was able to avoid the paper stack and silence my inner voice!


I’m not sure why, but this past week my inner voice has started bugging me again. It, apparently, still wants me to retrieve the original, hard copy of Metaphorical Squirrels and compare it with the newest version.

REALLY?!!! I see no valid reason to do this, I argue with myself. Logic, however, seems to have no bearing on the insistent, harassing voice inside my head. It looks like there will be no rest for the disorganized and overwritten. That’s why I’ve come up with a “to do” list:

  • Go through “the stack,” find the original hard copy of Metaphorical Squirrels, retype/restore the original story to its former glory and – yes, yes − I’ll compare the two stories in order to appease my inner slave driver!
  • Figure out how to format and use a damned story template so I quit having this problem. (This wasn’t the first time I’d overwritten a story or eight. You’d think I would have learned by now, right?)
  • Figure out a way to silence my inner nag – for good.

Hmm. I wonder if the nagging I’d get from backburnering − figuring out how to silence my inner nag − would cancel out my normal inner nagging? This might be a promising solution. Then again, this might cause my head to explode. But what the hell – my sanity’s been gone for a long time now. At this point, what more do I really have to lose?

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