I learned a very important lesson - probably the most valuable lesson of the year - and the year has only just begun: you need to back up your work. Stop procrastinating and do it! Save to Google docs, a flash drive or a back-up hard drive - anything.
Twas two nights before New Year's Eve and my laptop started acting weird, so I stopped what I was doing and started running a security scan. One after the other threats kept popping up until, in total, the anti-virus detected eight Trojan viruses. All but two were able to be quarantined and removed. The others had already firmly implanted themselves in the core operating system. In other words, my laptop was on the road to becoming toast.
All of my short stories, one completed novel, and three other novels in progress (all over 40K words in length) were on there and I didn't have them backed up anywhere.
The irony of the whole scenario is I received a flash drive USB doo-hickey as a Christmas present with about 300 billion GB of storage space (tech geeks tell me this is a lot of space). Had I used it yet? Nope. My husband, who is tech savvy and part geek, attempted to save the My Documents folder onto the flash drive and it didn't work. Then the blue screen of death appeared. I saw all the hours I spent bent over the keyboard flash before my eyes at that moment. Anxiety, comparable to when I was diagnosed with cancer, took over my mind and body as quickly as the viruses had corrupted my computer.
I am probably being dramatic but writing is my life, it's what keeps me sane, and the thought of losing everything I had written terrified me. It's not like I have every single word stored in my brain and I can just type it out again.
Today was the moment of truth...my new Dell laptop arrived and my fabulous husband (who I now owe big time) managed to extract my files from the old laptop onto the flash drive. Every single file is intact. I let out a huge sigh of relief. I didn't realize I had been holding my breath for over a week (that has to be some kind of record).
So please, writers I implore you. Don't let this happen to you! Back up, back up, back up!