The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

06 February 2012

Of blank pages

I have discovered a worse thing (for a writer) than a blank page (also known as writer's block).  It is even worse than the mistaken delete. It is saving a document on an unfamiliar computer, and not being able to find where it was saved to.

Far worse.

For over a week now, I've been tinkering away at an article.  The original idea came swiftly and easily. Some catchy phrases tossed themselves onto the hat rack skeleton... and then the process stalled.

Which led to the tinkering.  Every morning I would save the previous evening's changes then email the revised document to myself so I could chip away at the warts during the day.Then I'd get home from work and do some more typing and deleting. Without any breakthrough.  I was basically moving commas around. Painful.

Then came that ill-fated day.  During a break I opened the document and without really thinking about it, I altered the tone and structure of the piece.  Suddenly, it made sense; it flowed; it said precisely what I wanted to say when the original idea teased the muse. Then the bell rang and I had to go back to work. What I did next I have since come to regret, bitterly.

I clicked 'save'.  I didn't pay attention to where it was being saved.  I was using an unfamiliar computer in a network with protocols I don't yet understand.  If it had happened in a movie, the shot of me tapping the keyboard in that moment would have been in slow motion with someone off camera yelling "nooooo!" followed by my head hitting the keyboard in despair like that guy on Sesame Street who can't remember the end to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I don't know where it went.  I don't know who has it.  I sure wish they'd give it back because it was mighty fine, but it was also elusive - of its moment and never to be contained by mere words ever again.

Back to the blank page I go.


  1. I LOVE that sesame street guy who couldn't remember twinkle twinkle. That was one of my favourite skits.

    Oh, but I hate losing a good piece. So sorry....BANG...BANG...BANG

  2. Tess, I've done that also, but you might still be able to find it. Just open a new doc, type a single letter, then click 'save' and look to see where the system saves it to by default. Could be that is where your original doc went to. I'm so sorry that happened. Let us know if you do find it.

  3. ...bang... Thank you, Sarah... bang...bang...

    Bobby, I tried that trick to no avail. It goes to a temporary folder with some crazy random number/letter mashup of a name. I can't figure out how to access that folder, and am reluctant to phone the help desk for so small a thing.

  4. What operating system are you using Tess? We may still be able to retrieve it.