Friday, October 18, 2013

The Incredible Flash

I lost my flash drive this morning, along with my car keys...well, my cousin's keys, since I've borrowed her car for the time being.  I spent twenty minutes searching for both, but when my brother finally located the keys in the kitchen sink (don't ask...I have no idea...), the flash drive was still nowhere to be found.

I searched the bedroom and the pockets of my clothes, both the ones I'd been wearing and all the others strewn around the basket.  Do people  still put laundry away these days?

I left for work (late) and searched the car.  I searched the console I was sitting at yesterday, the refrigerator (you can laugh, but I tried to put my wallet in there last week)--at home and at work--my locker, the bathrooms, and the lost and found located on the police side of the 9-1-1 center.

On this flash drive is my novel-in-progress.

Now, thankfully, I've banged some sense into my head over the years, and most of my novel, all drafts, is saved to my computer, to the flash drive, and in my email, giving me the greatest chance of never actually losing it my computer is automatically backed up to a secure online location every night, for the reasonable price of $25 a year...especially reasonable since I've needed to actually use that handy restore feature twice in the past twelve months.  The two thousand words I wrote and edited yesterday, however, are saved nowhere but on that flash drive. 

I wanted the car keys so I could get to work, and when I found them, I left...reluctantly.  Getting to work, however, means nothing to me compared to losing those two thousand words.  Rewriting something is agony, and it's never quite the same afterward.  I'm answering phones, talking to a man whose wife is behaving strangely, violently, and I'm thinking, "Yeah...I'm going to get violent in a minute, too, if I don't find this stupid chunk of metal and plastic."

It's been a busy day.  We've had breathing problems, a cardiac arrest, a child locked in a vehicle, patients vomiting blood, and some just plain acting weird, as I mentioned before.  And of course, our lady who thinks she has no face has called three times in the past two hours.  The supervisor gave in and sent a fire truck out to her house a little while ago, which I probably wouldn't have done if it were up to me.  She never goes to the hospital.  We've had fire alarms, medical alarms, fire trucks going out of service for mechanical issues and to train new drivers.  We've had traffic accidents, and people spotted lying "dead" on the side of the road.  We've run out of ALS (paramedic) ambulances downtown once already, and it's not even 11:00 yet.  Right now I have an ambulance driving across the city in the hopes of making it to the east side before another emergent call comes in.  We've had chest pain, a suicide attempt, multiple assaults, several people who just weren't alert and one woman whose water broke just before she called.  In other words, it's a typical Friday morning.

Through all of this, I keep going back to my flash drive.  Did I drop it in the sink?  Did it fall down into the garbage disposal, or into a bowl full of water that didn't get washed out yet?  Is it broken?

I can't work on my novel without having the rough draft with me, and I don't have a printed copy.  I've written two blog posts today because I have to write something and I don't have my damn flash drive.


It's a mania.

I want to know what happens when Navelle Knight (my protagonist) wakes up in the hospital after taking an intentional overdose of a mix of different pills and realizes she can manipulate the shadows outside her window.

Of course, I know what happens.  I wrote it already.

I want to know what happens when I write it better.

It's a beautiful metamorphosis, writing a novel.  From one draft to the next, names change.  New characters are born and old ones scratched from the page.  Entire sections are erased and fresh chapters breathed into existence.  Characters change ages, professions, neuroses and family histories.  I started out with a fifteen year-old high school student named Shya and ended up with a twenty-one year-old college dropout who wheels dead bodies to the morgue for a living.  Okay, that's only part of her job, and she gets fired about two chapters into the book, but still.  She developed an eighteen year-old best friend with a two year-old son.  Her new therapist became one she'd been seeing for years, and the piano-playing autistic coffee shop waiter who happens to know something about all that shadow business went from age twenty-one to thirty, from pouring coffee to owning the shop.

The past changes between different drafts of a novel in a way it doesn't in real life, and the present and future are fluid.

It's a beautiful kind of magic.

Worlds collide in novel drafts, especially in mine.  It explores the possibility of another world fitted on top of this one, like a gem in a setting.  They touch, but they don't really connect.  They are alien to one another, and it's possible the new world is nothing but the creation of a sick or drugged imagination.

What's real?

I want to know.

I need that stupid drive.

The beauty--if I have to find some--in being forced to rewrite those two thousand words that begin chapter three, if I don't find the flash drive, is in the fluidity, the magic.  I told one story yesterday--a young woman waking up from a nightmare she didn't understand, unable to see, unable to move because of the restraints on her wrists.  She drew comfort from her mother's presence, and she couldn't explain exactly why she'd taken the pills.  She'd just been tired.  And she'd hurt.  The bandages across her eyes were too tight, and she was afraid of what they meant, and afraid to ask.  Everything was dark, which was a welcome relief from the noonday sunlight she hated so much.  She didn't get to see what had happened to her face.

Maybe in the rewrite, she will.

Maybe there won't be a nightmare about light and heat and wetness, about weight pressing down on her chest.  Maybe her fear will be caused by something completely different, or maybe it will be her roommate with her when she wakes up, instead of her mother.

Maybe there will be light instead of darkness and, instead of feeling afraid, she'll be comforted.

A thousand possibilities, and I won't know which is the new reality until I know if I have to take on the task.

I'll concentrate on the beauty to be found in a new truth instead of the hours of work that might have been lost, and I'll feel hope instead of aggravation...mostly.

Most of all, I'll eat.  Because I'm hungry, and it's lunch time, and I have to pee.

So I'll see you all tomorrow when I post the other entry I wrote this morning.

 UPDATE:  The flash drive has been FOUND!!! It wasn't in the sink, after all, or the garbage disposal, and it did indeed fall from the pocket of my pants and somehow became wedged underneath the laundry basket, where I missed it in my furious early morning search of pockets.  Crisis averted.  

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