Right now. Be honest. Exactly where are your treasured works saved? Desk drawer? Pen holder? Coffee mug? Decorative wooden box? External hard drive on the desk next to your computer?
I know that you’ve read many articles about the importance of back-ups and where to store them, but did you take action?
A storm just ripped through my neighborhood. Trees tore through power lines, blocked roads, and demolished homes. As I watched the 80 foot trees behind my house part like blades of grass, my first thought wasn’t getting to the basement for safety. No.
Is my backup in the safe? If a tornado takes my house, where would the safe land?
Thirteen years ago I lost everything in an apartment fire. Every word I’d written – a life’s work. Possessions can be replaced by insurance, if you have it. But insurance does not cover intellectual property. Nothing will bring back your treasured words.
The owner of the apartment complex had not allowed the fire department access to the property for hydrant inspection in years. Two were rusted shut. The one that did open had no water. The defense attorney said to me, “If you were a seasoned writer, you would have protected your work.” Then she went on to expound on how, since I had yet to make an actual sale, my work was no more valuable than the paper on which it was written. The heat of her words burned hotter than the fire.
Before that I had kept back-ups offsite, usually at my day job. When I was downsized, I brought my back-ups home. I was three weeks from moving to a better place when that fire happened. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know any better, but that small window of letting my guard down proved fatal.
I didn’t just lose years of precious work. I lost my identity with it. Was I really a writer if I had not hit the big time? Was I fooling myself all those years thinking I could ever be published? Was this a sign that I was nothing more than a dreamer whose messy notebooks would someday bring my sanity into question? With my many starts and stops for re-evaluation, I lost six years of productivity, during which I might have produced great work.
Until that storm, I had been content with the use of a portable safe. Now I’m rethinking its location, and whether a good storm might fling it into the next county. It’s not enough just to do the back-ups. It must be secured away from you.
I can’t shout this loud enough: Protect your files offsite!
If you trust technology, find a recommended digital cloud. I know a couple people who love this option. Old school like me? Bank box, coffee can in Uncle Karl’s backyard, or safe cemented in the floor. Because whether you misplace your flash drive in a move, lose your house to nature or accident, or your “first love” to a jealous ex, you’d better be prepared.
Masterpiece or moth-eaten notes, gone is Gone.
Now, where are your files stored?
If your life’s work is in any of the places in the first paragraph, take action. Move it.
Sheila Englehart is the author of Warning Signs, published by Second Wind Publishing