Sunday, June 06, 2010

Well, ok, once was ...interesting, but let's not do THIS again!

I arrived home Friday night full of energy all ready to boot up my nice new laptop and get started learning how to make it do back flips.

And promptly managed to delete all my mail management data.

Think of it like this: Five YEARS of files in filing cabinets. Neatly labelled, sorted, organized, color coded. You can find things in less than a minute. It's a sweet system and clearly you've tempted the gods with hubris because what happens is: someone opened every one of the file drawers, turned it upside down and threw every piece of paper on the floor. And then turned on a fan.

Nothing is actually LOST but you sure as hell can't find it.

The only way to rebuild the data base at this point is to download every piece of email since 2006 and link it back in to the mail management program.

Ok. No problem. I can do this while I read.
And read.
And read.

It turns out (no surprise here) I have a LOT of email.

About 40,000. That's received AND sent.

It's turned out to be an interesting little exercise.

It was actually kind of fun to see the first emails from my earliest clients (Jeff Somers, Sean Ferrell.) Then up pop a few more. A long spate of no one new, then a few more.

It was almost like flipping through an old photo album. Emails I'd long forgotten about were back on my screen.

Lots of email to editors for projects I didn't sell them.
Lots of emails to editors just filed away because they've moved on to new jobs so I didn't need to link or remember the old addresses.

The heartbreaking ones from friends and editors and queriers who have since died. Elaine Flinn. Laura Hruska. James Farmer. People I liked a lot, and still miss.

Lots and lots of queries of course. With this many emails, I can see people who've queried me more than ten times over the years. People who queried me but ended up elsewhere, happily.

It's now 4:00pm on Sunday afternoon. I've been at this for more than 24 hours and I still have a YEAR (at least it's the last one!) to go. This year will take a while. One thing that's really obvious now is my email volume has doubled every year for three years. I'd guessed it was increasing but I had no idea it was this much.

Part of that is more queries. Part of that is running QueryShark. Part of it is being part of a larger agency with emails flying back and forth about cupcake shenanigans and who is responsible for bartending for the Herpet American assssistant when I'm not around.

The one thing that remains to be seen is if I can actually do the transfer this time without erasing anything.

If you hear a giant scream around 4am, and CNN reports NYC has fallen into the Atlantic, you'll know who to blame: Suzie Townsend. She actually had the nerve to leave town to attend a writing conference. (Cody, Wyoming this is All Your Fault!) As you can see, the rule that I'm not allowed to touch machinery without supervision really does need to be tattooed on my head.


Anne-Marie said...

Good luck with the final stage, Janet. I'm drowning in report card writing for the year end and all the sorting and compiling of grade and assignments here seems positively simple compared to your task.


Josin L. McQuein said...

At least you didn't break the internet!

pensees said...

Man, that stinks! I hope your diligence is rewarded and you never have to go through that again. Yuk.

Filippo said...

Dear, Janet, I feel your pain. That exact thing has happened to me before. More than once. But I think, after a lot of couples therapy, that my marriage with the computer is better than ever. My "other" girlfriend (the human one) understands (almost) completely all the fights, the ups and downs, and the silly slaps (mostly I get slapped by the machine).
And I can tell that the only medicine for the disfunctional relationship to work is to laugh, and laugh hard -- for us to not be victims of a "Terminator" type of future. Wish you all the luck.
Little tip: Slap it back. (it doesn't help the machine, but works wonderfully for our self-steem)

suzie townsend said...

I'll bring you a present when I'm back on Tuesday :)

Nicole MacDonald said...

oooo - I feel your pain, I had to do it with paper after one hell of a storm one year.

Laurel said...

I'm. SOOOOO. Sorry.

And, cool! An enforced trip down memory lane. Because let's face it, those are the only kinds of memory lane trips we ever really take. Funerals, sorting through crap for a big move, whatever. If there isn't a reason, you wouldn't do it.

I hold a metaphysical/mystical reality belief that these sorts of catastrophes hit us from time to time because we need to take a step back and remember things and the universe knows it even if we don't.

I'm so impressed that you've gotten through 75% of the time frame. Go, Janet!

Kim Kasch said...


Stephanie Barr said...

At least it's not lost. I've been in cases where it's lost or when I had to convert eight years of emails (ant attachments) manually to RTF format because my new work used a different email system that couldn't convert directly.

I feel for you.

Jojomama said...

Oh...nightmare. Sometimes computers frighten me. So much is at stake...and they've got us over a barrel. One false key stroke and your world can disappear. Ah!!

wry wryter said...

I used to be a file clerk for an insurance company BC before computers. I maintained 60,000 files all in their little manila folders in God knows how many file drawers.
One day I went to work in wet shoes, it rained, and as anyone knows wet feet and eight hours of walking don't mix. So I put my shoes in one of the file drawers to dry.
I went home barefoot.
So, under S for shoes, they're mine.

ryan field said...

This is my worst nightmare. I'd have to pay (beg) someone to help.

Steve Stubbs said...

Call your friendly local geek service and get them to show you how to back up your data. I use an iOmega external hard drive, easily connected to my machine with a USB port. Otherwise this sort of disaster will happen again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

cherilyn david said...

tried to send you an email at fineprintlit and it was kicked back... ???

didn't want to put on here as the longest comment ever


Furious D said...

I had a problem with my computer last year that almost destroyed all my data. Thankfully, a local computer expert was able to save it, though it cost me $150.

Now I back up everything, especially my work, on different backup drives. Yes, I've become that paranoid.

Good luck with the slog through digital file purgatory.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Bill E. Goat: Hey! Pixie, what happens if you delete this file?

Me: I don't know, but never delete anything you ...

Bill E: Ah oh!

Me: Bill what did

laughingwolf said...

not that it can't happen on a mac, but i'd bet a muffin or two you don't use one, more's the pity... :(