(Yes, I'd been backing everything up, every day, but it turns out things can still go wrong. Which things went wrong is not the interesting part. Trust me.)
By the time I finally sent the damaged hard drive off to the data recovery people, I'd scrounged up recent-enough copies of most of my fiction. Still, I'd lost one pass of polishing on the Big Book, some very preliminary works in progress, and... 50,000 words of the Stisele book. That last was the worst to lose.
It took a year of tutoring to save up enough in the business account--beyond my commitment to the monthly household bottom line--to pay for data recovery, so for a year I've had that lost half-a-book hanging over my head.
Now for the interesting part:
I have that doomed feeling I used to get in grad school, which, weirdly enough, bodes well. The bone-deep belief that nothing I do will make any difference almost always indicates I'm about to pass a major milestone. I remember standing in the office of the Very Last Dean, waiting for her to sign the Very Last Form, and believing even then that I would never graduate, because nine years of working flat out had never previously resulted in graduating. I get the impression this is a common form of psychological scarring among academics and ex-academics.
Today, opening the FedEx package of disks of my rescued files filled me with a sense of absolute futility, a certainty that having back all 100,000 words of the Stisele rough draft does not matter--none of the big New York print publishers will ever want that story.
Aha! Victory must be nigh!
Sometimes living in my head is like being a triple agent in a cold war espionage farce.