The other day on the bus to Boston, I decided to write for a little while on my iPod touch. I have a WordPress app, so I figured I would write there and save it as a draft to work on later. It’s a story I have been formulating in my head for a while and that, though I don’t have a middle or an ending planned, I have a pretty solid and detailed beginning mapped out. So, I began writing. I wrote a pretty solid amount and I was pretty happy with what I had so far. It was freeing to finally have started this story, since I had wanted to for a while but couldn’t quite break through that threshold of theoretically wanting to do something and actually wanting to DO something.
I went back to my music screen for a moment to skip the song that my shuffle had chosen and returned, hoping to get back to work.
Not one word of what I had typed remained.
I was crushed. It had taken so much mental effort to start this story. It will not be an easy story to write, in part because it will be the longest story I have ever attempted, and it had been going so well. For a moment I decided to try again while the ideas were still fresh in my brain, but I was so defeated. I just sat back in my seat and got lost in the music instead.
I hate that. I hate losing something you literally cannot retrieve again. Even if I had immediately tried to rewrite it, the result would not have been exactly the same. To me, that’s devastating. That’s why I like that WordPress for laptops saves drafts every few minutes automatically. It’s why every time I stop to gather my thoughts for even a moment while typing a word document, my fingers automatically fly to Ctrl + S. I would blame the possibility of losing such things on technology, but at least technology gives you these saving options. If you wrote a five page paper by hand and your mom accidentally used it to line the puppy’s cage, or you dropped it in the rain, you would be totally screwed. So it’s just the idea that thoughts and writing can be so destructible, so fragile.
When my laptop got stolen in December, I was upset. Though, I will admit, I was not that torn up about the loss of the physical piece of machinery. Objects are just that – objects. I was grateful my roommate and I were both out at the time and that nobody was hurt. However, I had things saved on that computer that I, foolishly, never backed up. I had hundreds of pictures saved that I can no longer retrieve from Facebook, though I can still look at them there. I had tons of old school assignments that may have come in handy someday, though many of those are saved in my email from when I had to print them out elsewhere.
What bothers me the most is that I had this document that I had entitled “Forbidden Thoughts” at the time of its creation. It is where I wrote my thoughts and feelings that I was too afraid to tell anyone out loud. The emotions I had that I couldn’t share with anyone but I most certainly couldn’t keep inside. I added to it as events unfolded over the course of a few months at the end of 2008 into January 2009. Last summer, the summer of 2010, I reread that document and I could feel every sensation – every twinge of jealousy, every fluttered heartbeat, every pang of regret, every loss of breath, every burning tear – all over again. I don’t think it was particularly well-written, I don’t remember. It was raw and it was real and it was from within the situation. It was something I remember being grateful that I had written down while it was happening. It was a unique perspective on the situation, different than it was as I reread it, over a year later and removed – albeit slightly – from the situation. It was immediate responses, descriptions of things that were happening in my body, my mind and my heart at the very moment they were happening.
No way of getting back these things I had written. And this cannot be duplicated. I remember these feelings and, sure, I can write about them. But they will never be as real, as accurate and as intense as they had been in that one document.
When I was younger – I want to say sixth grade, but I cannot be positive – I wrote a book. A chapter book intended for kids a little below my own reading level. I worked so hard on it. I have to imagine it was over a summer vacation, because I remember spending long stretches of time in front of my computer. It was a detailed, intricate story about a little boy. I believe his name was Johnny. He came home from school one day to find his family was ignoring him. He had done something that he thought might have warranted this – I think he was late coming home from school and hadn’t called. He wasn’t fazed by it at first – he used this silent treatment to his advantage. He would steal his sister’s CDs or stay up as late as he wanted. Eventually, he got a little lonely and went for a walk, and found himself in the local cemetery. He met this boy who was around his age who seemed startled when Johnny responded to an off-hand comment he had made, seemingly to himself. Eventually Johnny found himself looking down at a gravestone and seeing a small round portrait of himself on the cold, hard stone. It had his name engraved on it, date of death that same day he had come home late to the silent treatment.
The story goes on to be about how Johnny tries to write a letter to his family so they can read it and know he’s at peace or something. I believe the same of it was Dear Johnny and I printed it out using that Word Document background that looked like scrolls of parchment. I was quite pleased with myself. A few years later I remembered writing this and went looking for it.
I have no idea where this story – physical or technological – is or ended up. I secretly hope that someday we’ll be going through an box of old papers and come across it – I can’t imagine my mother throwing it out on purpose. She thought it was insane that I had enough dedication to write a full chapter book. She even later pointed out that my story about a little ghost boy who didn’t know he was dead seemed to have been stolen by M. Night Shamalanhahan and adapted into the Sixth Sense a few years later. So it’s possible that’s where this story went. No one can be sure.
I hate it. I hate knowing that I created these things. I put effort into these things. I cannot duplicate these things. Yet they are gone. Forever.
~ by Valerie Anne on 07/06/2011.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tags: i also secretly hope that i had saved "forbidden thoughts" on some elusive flash drive i haven't found yet, i lost too many papers in my life to not save my word documents every few minutes, i may have some of the details of Dear Johnny wrong but that was the general idea, i never had a puppy nor do i ever remember losing homework to rain but those both sound like they'd be bad, i wasn't far enough in the new story to totally abandon it but it was certainly disheartening, i'm not saying my Dear Johnny story was awesome but it would be so cool to read what kind of writer 12 year old Valerie was in comparison to 24 year old writer, technology is a blessing and a curse