Starting Over

facepalm statue

At that terrifying moment when I realized I had contrived to throw my entire writing file into the trash on my Mac, and then empty it, I froze. It was a Wile E. Coyote moment, discovering I had chased the roadrunner over the precipice and was suspended in mid-air.


My five completed books, my new novel, all its revisions, all my short stories, ideas for stories, beginnings that have been awaiting completion. It was all there yesterday. And today: gone.

After the initial silent scream of abject terror, I remembered that

I am used to doing stupid things and that provisions had been made. There was a backup made about a month ago; there were emails sent to various people with recoverable attachments; I managed to recover 90% of the documents.

Tragedy 90% averted.

There are still documents and fragments that I will never see again. A story I began only three weeks before vanished into oblivion. The story was about a girl who went suddenly missing, the slow realization of it, and the actions that were taken to find her. I had not got very far, but maybe the next version will be better.

The idea of starting over in anything is always very frightening. We are afraid that we will not remember how to do it the same way. We are angry that all the time and effort has been wasted and lost. We don’t want to give up the familiar and go through all the effort to learn the new again. We like the familiar. Starting over means losing what you know.

Did you ever wait for a bus for 45 minutes and then give up? You know that you have put in more than enough time. You know if you give up the wait, you will have to wait for a different bus later anyway. You don’t want to start over so you wait longer.

And invariably the bus comes two minutes after you are gone.

I have started over so many times and in so many ways in my life. I started over when I moved from country to country. From Saudi Arabia to the US to Rome to Paris to London to Munich to Rome again and to Belgrade. And to China. And to the Philippines. Each new place was a new beginning. Making new friends, meeting new people, learning new languages, cooking new foods, and finding the best place to stand waiting for the bus.

Each action is about starting over.

If I look back, I cannot say that I have regretted any times when I had to start over. Even if every time I resented it and usually was furious that events (or my own boneheaded choices) had conspired as to make me start over, I always came around to it.

Each time I have been led down a path of discovery that always has some value. Maybe the saddest thing that can happen is when you refuse to start over. Life takes everything from us eventually, and we must choose whether or not to start over. Sometimes it is beyond us. This is always the fear in starting over. But as long as there is a choice, starting over is all there is.

As long as there is a choice, there is no choice.

I am sorry about the short story I started. I think it was good. I did a lot of research already on it. It was to be called Missing. The time I took to research and write as much as I did was not wasted though. I will bring it back, I think. And maybe for Missing to go missing and make me start over could turn out to be for the best after all.


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