Lost for words

On the 18th June I made my usual backup of my laptop. My ‘usual’ backup is done once or twice a week and if I’ve had a successful time with my dissertation then that folder gets backed up a few times extra. On the 19th June I did a complete dissertation overhaul. New concept, new ideas … It felt fresh and logical and I was inspired! On the 20th June I met with my lecturer and had those ideas blossom all afternoon and well into the 21st of June I was writing, writing, writing.

The week passed and I spent the evening of the 24th and aaaaall of the 25th completely pouring words into my dissertation. I had reached flow. And flow the words did … By Sunday morning I woke up feeling like life was working because my dissertation was finally coming together. With this in mind, I reached for my external hard drive and my special USB to make my ritual backups (yes, I am in the habit of making two backups of my dissertation – that is how pedantic I am) and I pressed my little laptop’s power button.

Nothing happened.

My stomach churned. Three hours later, my laptop still refused to function as I desired it. A friend came by for a different reason but I successfully dragged him into a dark room and made him fix it.

He couldn’t. The software was not working.

So we dismantled the laptop to retrieve the hard drive to get the files off that way … and I spent the following week obtaining appropriate adaptors and cables in order to extract my precious files from my hard drive only to have every option fail.

I spent the next Saturday driving around the city from technician to service centre and everything in between. Every technician promised success, but every technician failed.

On Sunday I bought a new laptop. I still have to get used to the keyboard and it’s too big to have in my lap in bed. So we re-designed my space. Now I have a wobbly garden table and an uncomfortable chair positioned in my room and I feel perfectly and entirely miserable when I sit in the chair that’s too high at the table that’s unstable to use the laptop that hurts my neck and confuses my fingers.

Another week has passed and I’ve barely used my laptop. Sitting at the swaying table on the hard chair is not inspiring after a day at work, so I’ve held off. Combined with general fatigue and a lack of motivation over all, I decided another week to mourn the loss of my dissertation was acceptable. This weekend – what remains of it – I am determined to ‘get back’ to my dissertation, to write it again and achieve that blissful state of flow once more.

I sat down on my hated chair and gently prepared my books and laptop with minimal movements in case the dancing table chose that moment to topple. Attempting optimism, I read the only copy of that little flowing brainwave – a very, very rough draft of the first chapter which I printed to take to my lecturer.

It barely resembles what I did to it in that week of flow. Now I’m staring at it in disbelief.

I am lost for words; I do not know how to explain how much work I lost, nor do I know how to explain that I cannot remember what flowed forth in that week. I do not know where to begin. It very much feels like the end.

I have lost the words – the words I wrote in the files are lost on my laptop and the memory of them as they flowed from my mind did just that: they flowed from my mind. And now my words are lost.

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6 comments on “Lost for words

  1. Pingback: To motivate the unmotivated « dodging commas

  2. On no Stef! On some level, I can mourn with you on the incompetence of technology and the loss of work (and inspiration); however I’ve never had it happen to such a devastating degree.

    All I can say is GOOD LUCK, with both your dissertation and your new laptop – I hope you two can overcome your differences and enjoy a long and fruitful relationship together!

    • Thank you. I decided I hated my laptop last night when I went to bed but today I like it again. A stand and proper seating arrangements will make me less inclined to hurl abuse at poor Jorge. If only my thesis muse would return to me …

  3. Oh Stef, this is truly awful! I know how sad and infuriating this can be, with the knowledge that you’re powerless to do anything about it but start over. I suppose the consolation is that it could have been much MUCH worse…say, losing the entire thing. At least you have back ups of some of it.

    In any case, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and chances are you will write that thing 10 times better than it was anyway, especially seeing as you’ve already processed all the ideas once before. Now you can build on that and start afresh!

    Good luck! And glad to hear you’ve got a new computer up an running, even if you are still getting used to it 🙂

      • Oh dear. Things do sound dire. I’m out of motivational pep talks I’m afraid. If it makes you feel at all better, my thesis year was extraordinarily traumatic without my computer even having to breakdown…there’s always bloody something with these damn dissertations!

        Perhaps there is an evil thesis demon that plagues us?

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