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The Data

One thing I’ve become conscious of is my need to save and backup data. I spent about an hour today going through various folders containing my writing and I know now that I need to come up with some kind of seriously stable, centralized backup system — something that is easily updated, easily synchronized, and easily maintained.

My creative processes are somewhat messy, but not so messy that this would be impossible. For example, I tend to go back and find stories I worked on, partway through, and then left to “percolate”. Once I “finish” them — meaning once I get to the point where I feel I won’t edit any more — I tend do declare stories finished, and I also tend not to go back and edit stories more. This means that my “Finished stories” archive is easy to maintain — it just keeps growing.

But the rest is harder to manage. There are the stories I am working on currently — which includes things I actually am working on, or things I want to work on. There are the stories I plan not to work on again, but which, by some strange twist, I may end up returning to. There are stories I plan to work on more, but which I don’t intend to work on in the near future. All of these I keep in different subfolders.

And now, the kicker: if I was only writing fiction, this wouldn’t be such a mess, but I also have similar categories going for verse projects, nonfiction projects, and teaching materials.

And to make things worse, I am a kind of packrat for drafts. When I make major revisions, I create a new file. While, of course, I always eventually create a compressed archive for drafts and early versions of each piece, this still complicates things a little.

So I think I am going to have to come up with some kind of smarter archive system — some kind of intelligent file-management database system or something — to keep all of this organized, preserved, and up-to-date. In some ways it might be worth investing in a chunk of very well-run, effectively backed-up webspace, and have a database running containing all of this.

In any case, it’s better that files can be backed up by a variety of means. This is much better than in the old days, where one unlucky fire could wipe out an author’s full collection of notes, juvenilia, and unpublished works. Me, I have one set of files on my computer, another on my MP3 player, and I’ll have a third on a DVD-ROM before I go to sleep tonight.

And I think that this semester I will, at the very least, figure out some kind of smart, clean backup system so that, even if there is no optimal way to organize my writing, at least I won’t risk losing any of it, and I’ll be able to find things more easily. And then I’ll do the same with photos, and I’ll be set!

Off I go now, to burn backups of my writing archives. (That is, if I can get them to work on a DVD-ROM: the file paths are so long sometimes the files gank out on me, and for the same reason, compression doesn’t work so well.)

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