As the book takes on critical mass—in complexity, in richness, in sheer number of pages—I find myself increasingly afraid of losing it….
I’m not talking about losing my mind (although that’s an ever-present possibility). No, I’m talking about the work, itself. Losing the work. Not figuratively. Literally.
With so much done, there is also much at stake. One becomes afraid to let the laptop out of one’s site. And the lengths one goes to, to keep the work safe…
As in NY, where confidence is defined by always knowing where one’s purse is, confidence nowadays is defined by physically knowing where the repository of the work (the laptop) is. This stage of the writing raises the worst of paranoid considerations. If all those pages, those 17 chapters, were to disappear today, I would be as lost as the work. There’s no way I could reproduce what I’ve labored so long and hard to create.
As a result, the strategies of vigilence are endless. They require the writer to take drastic measures…always knowing exactly where the laptop is…always being aware of where the machine is kept in the house, in case marauders should come in and rob the place during the day…facing endless self-debate about how often one backs up to the palm drive…and dealing with the logistics of always keeping the palm drive secure and separate from the laptop—unless both are safe with the writer in their backpack. One is tempted, at times, to have the entire work tattooed on one’s butt (a surface that, admittedly, lacks the space for such literary volume.) Not gonna happen. But it’s a thought…
When the purpose-built backpack is near me, it is almost always in physical contact with a part of my person. It’s within the reach of my sight. It is being touched by a hand or a foot. It is on my shoulder. No, I don’t sleep with it, but I do sleep next to it. Promiximity is the only source of reassurance. Craziness, truly.
Once, back in the Commodore 64 days of writing, I lost 6 hours of unreproducable work because my computer crashed without backup. Now, there’s so much more to lose. If I were to lose the work at this stage, I’d be obliged to go jump off a bridge. Today, having reached a stage of looking back at certain passages and remarking, delightedly, “Ooh, I really wrote that?” the loss would be truly catastrophic.
Yes, I’ll still go through “this is tripe” phases (like last night.) I’ll still look back and judge myself harshly in the desire to make stuff better. But right now, the thought of losing even a semi-colon is enough to make me start putting up before-the-fact Reward posters in an anticipatory frenzy of loss.