Writing your first draft is a labor of love.

I’ve suffered a horrible loss of my WIP, Beautifully Broken (Book 2 in the Destiny Series), yesterday. The file is corrupt. I’ve gone from 32,500 words to 15,000 words – and this is after I’ve recovered bits and pieces from emails, backups of my electronic notes and scraps of paper from the past three weeks that had yet to make it into the shredder. Maybe I should have renamed the story while I still had the chance. Would it have made a difference?

A nightmare is what it is.

Welcome to my world

I’m sharing part of my Prologue with you now, so you can see why I’m so devastated for losing over 17,000 raw words from my first draft. That’s a lot to lose at this stage of the game! Following is 1,355 of Matty’s words that I thought I’d lost forever.

Excerpt from Prologue

Even with my snow gear on, it’s frosty. The snow starts to rain from the heavens, covering the road with a wave of white blankets. Even with the hood of the truck blocking the wind, a blast of snow whips around it and slices across my face.

Felicia rolls down the driver side window and peeks her head outside. “Need any help under there? Whatever you’re doing, it’s not working.”

“I can always use your hands, doll. But not this time. I think I’ve got it. Give it another try.” I catch a look at her smile before she escapes from the blistery weather and reefs on the handle to roll up the window in the truck.

Romantic young beauty as an angel

I’m still smiling, as she revs the engine in the aged truck. I knew it. I am the man. I hear a resounding wail of the horn and imagine that Felicia is celebrating, but then I jump from the loud crackle in the air. A resounding screech echoes through my ears and deafens me, as the hood seems to turn into the mouth of a crocodile and clamps down onto me like vicious jaws. The twisted wreckage wraps around me, and sandwiches my body precariously against my own truck.

Pain sears through my side and bolts right to my foot, as I gasp for air that can’t seem to reach my lungs. Starved for oxygen, dizziness settles in, but it doesn’t even numb the pain screaming across every inch of my lower extremities.

I’m moaning now. It hurts so bad. I don’t know if one can handle a pain like this. I think I’m going to die. That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea right about now. It feels like a waterfall of blood is spilling down my body and I’m suddenly very tired. I’m afraid to close my eyes though. I’m fighting for a breath as it is. If I fall asleep, I’m afraid I might forget to try and breathe at all.

With my next breath, it’s like I’ve been knifed in my ribs. Everything burns. It’s like a fire is engulfing my body and I’m going to fall into a sink hole that will take me straight to a lifetime of hell. Nothing is working as it should. Even my vision is blurry. All I see is red. Blood it is everywhere. It’s even in my eyes.

If it weren’t for the steady shocks of electricity attacking my legs, I’d have believed that I didn’t have any extremities attached to me anymore. The pain. Someone make it stop!

“Help!” I holler. I need someone to help me. My voice sounds so weak. Is that me? “Help!” I shout again. Someone has to hear me. I’m so scared. I don’t want to be alone anymore. I need someone to get me out of here. “Help me!” I shout at the top of my lungs.

That was a mistake. Tears pour down my face and mingle with some other liquid that had been steadily seeping from my ear. Everything is foggy. I listen for any sign that help is on its way, but the piercing ring in my ears prevents me from hearing anything over my gasping.

This is it. My life is over. No one is here. No one can save me now. Another screech rips through my ears. It’s a woman. At once, everything falls back into place.

Felicia.

Oh God. Tell me she’s okay. If you must take someone, take me.

Now that my eyes are shut, it takes a great deal to open them. I have been hit. I know that much. But what’s pinning me in place? I can’t move anything but an arm. Why can’t I move?

As my mind floods with a bleak reality, I scream; a full on scream.  “Help!  Someone please help me!”

I don’t know what feels worse… the stabbing pain my side or the throb inside my chest with every wayward beat of my heart. It feels like my chest is crushed and my heart is dangling from a vine. I can’t feel my legs.

I pry my eyes open and hold them there like their stuck open with toothpicks. “Oh, God. Please help me,” I cry out. I slowly wake from the darkness to a beautiful angel surrounded in a storm of white searing pain.  She’s pleading for me to stay with her. Lucky for her I don’t feel like going anywhere at the moment.

Fine art photo of a woman-angel

The angel struggles with the passenger window. The door is pretty mangled and she can’t get it open very far. Why is she in the truck? She’s determined to escape now. I think to do the same. I try to move my legs again, but I can’t.

“Noooo,” I moan. I try to move my upper body, and I feel a lot of pressure in my gut. It feels like someone has thrown an entire set of knives at me and I’m acting as a dart board. After the knives are removed, it feels like my intestines are oozing from the holes.

“Don’t move, Matty. I’m coming,” the angel cries.

My eyes lift just enough to reach the white creature. She’s so magnificent. I’d do anything for the girl, if she’d just take my pain away.

“Please,” I beg. “Help me.”

“Matty.  I swear to God.  If you leave me, I will kill you myself,” she shouts through the broken window. The angel sounds so angry. Why is she so mad?

My eyes blink open again. My life is so foggy, but then I have a glimmer of an angel lying in the snow, with her luscious brown hair tangling above her.

Wait a minute. That’s no angel. “Felicia?”

“Oh, God.  Thank you,” she cries, as she squeezes out through the passenger window.

She has a horrible limp, but she seems to ignore it as she drags her injured leg behind her. I watch her climb awkwardly onto the mangled hood and I see how it tears at her jacket. She lies right on top of the shattered windshield and reaches out to me. It takes every ounce of energy I have just to hold her hand.

“Hang on, Matty. Please. You have to stay with me.”

I gasp for another breath. “What are you talking about?” It takes so much energy just to talk. “I’m not going anywhere.”

She smiles through tears, but her eyes can’t hide the fear. She swallows. “They got you pretty good. I’m not going to be able to get you out of this mess alone.”

When I cough, it feels like I just ejected my appendix. I try to look down, but a stinging sensation clings to my spine and clamps my chin in place.

“Felicia. If I die, know that if I had more time in life, I would have wanted to spend it with you.” My life seems to flash before my eyes, as she chokes on her tears.

“Shut up!” she cries out. “No one’s going to die.”

I can see that she’s squeezing onto my hand with a death grip, but I’d lost all sensation in my hands minutes earlier.

The cold grips me and seizes my insides. My eyes slide shut and it takes too much effort to reopen them. “Help me,” I whisper. Even my voice is tired. It’s like it’s run out of time. “I’m dying.”

Young couple outdoor portrait. pretty girl kissing handsome boy

“You’re not going to die,” she stammers. “You hear me, Matty? Not today, you’re not. You’re going to hang on for me, okay? You’re going to hang on and live for me. You have to.”

Her voice cuts off. She’s sobbing now. I can tell she’s trying to help and be strong for me, but nothing can wake me from this nightmare. I’m going to die. I can feel it in my broken bones.

“Matty,” she screams. “You have to wake up.”

I can’t do that. Too sleepy. I can hear the sirens, but they aren’t going to make it in time. I can feel my life draining from my broken body. This life that I lead is officially over.

 Copyright 2014 Christa Simpson

Now you can see why I’m beside myself right now. I thought I had lost this. I HAD lost this. Luckily I’d shared it with a friend and she hadn’t deleted our emails. She’d saved a few other pieces of my work that I thought I would never see again. 17,000 words are still gone; the words just vanished in the blink of an eye thanks to a corrupt file on my USB stick. My backup is nearly three weeks old, leaving close to 20,000 new words at risk of corruption.

My story, which was completely outlined with a selection of memorable dialogue setting out each scene, is gone. The first ten chapters that once flowed together and were ready for round one of editing, are now hunks of random scenes that have yet to be blended into a story. Characters were created. Moments lost.

Moments Lost

I’ve lost my ending, which I thought was amazing. I’ve lost the sex scene that had reunited the couple after a long lead up to it. As a writer, understanding how this is his first time after his injury and how critical it is to the story, with his trust and her understanding, I will not be able to recreate that same mood and dialogue with the same heart. I’d stayed up until 3:00 a.m. writing that scene. The words had flowed from my fingers then. Now, it’s just bits and pieces that hang in the back of my mind. Hours and hours of sleep have been lost and will never be regained.

Writing your first draft is a labor of love.

Those 17,000 words were a labor of love and I fear that trying to replicate what once was will only turn into a B-grade recollection of events. I’m reluctant to give up on my previous story line because it had come together so nicely. Is it possible for it to come back together in a better way? I don’t know. Am I going to give it a good try? Absolutely. But I can say, without a doubt, that if anything feels forced or like a poor attempt of recreating a previous scene, I’m going to stop and take it in an entirely different direction. I loved what I had, but it’s gone now. The sooner I accept that, the sooner I can move on.

Book heart

I feel like I’ve lost a fictional child.

I plan to work my butt off to try and bring this thing back together and get back on my tight schedule, but to be honest, I’m tired. In a few weeks I’ll have two rental homes vacant. For the past two weekends, I’ve been cleaning, painting and mowing a rather large lawn. This is all in addition to my duties at my own home. I had been writing like crazy to prepare for that scenario and I was making it. The fact of the matter is, I work full time. I have kids who want my attention; homework still needs done, dance and gymnastics classes that I have to chauffeur them to every week. I’m afraid this little glitch is just the thing to crush my progress. It might be time for a small break. I’ll touch base with you once I’ve decided how I’m going to proceed from here. ❤

Have you ever had this happen to you before? If you have any inspirational words for me, I’d love to hear them. 🙂

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2 comments

  1. What a heartbreaking story! It’s every writer’s nightmare come true. One thing I picked up from another writer somewhere along the line is to save all my writing to a Dropbox folder on my computer which is then automatically backed up to the cloud whenever I’m near WiFi. It not only updates the file but keeps every version as you go along and you can revert back or access an earlier draft if your changes get out of hand and you don’t like what you’ve done. Then I also connect my backup hard drive very 2 or 3 weeks and do a full windows backup (or time machine if you’re on a Mac). Now my writing is on my laptop, in the cloud and on the backup drive and I don’t worry about it. Paranoid, right? It’s how I sleep at night.

    Best of luck with your new direction and jumping off from recollections. What you come up with will be better than you think and the stuff you lost probably wasn’t as good as you remember. Or at least tell yourself that. 😉

    Like

    1. I had just started using the jump drive since getting a new laptop. Still don’t trust the cloud completely, but it does hold my notes and I was able to salvage some of my ideas from the One Note drive. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way and noe back up EVERY day. The story is now complete and I’m working with my editor as we speak. Very happy with the final results. 🙂 Let’s hope you never have to go through something like that. Painful!

      Liked by 1 person

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