It happened again last week. I poured my heart, soul, time, and energy into a scene. It was on my mind for days and I tried to sculpt every world to the point of perfection. Then the scene disappeared.
I know I saved. I thought I backed up. But the piece was not to be found.
So I did what all mature writers do: I complained on Twitter, ate a pint of ice cream, and moped with a series of chick flicks questioning whether or not I really have what it takes to “make it” in the writing world.
Eventually my spoon found the bottom of the carton, my movie collection hit the final credits, and my self-esteemed started peering out from behind the couch.
I picked up the pen.
Word by word I tried to put the masterpiece back together. With every sentence I became more convinced that the original writing of the scene was better.
But the original scene was gone and I was going to have to make the new one work. After all, I was in good company of writers who lost work. Hemingway lost almost everything he wrote before 1922 in a briefcase that went missing on a train.
But, unlike for Hemingway, my scene reappeared in this wonderful invention called Dropbox. (If you’re not using Dropbox, I highly recommend signing up).
As I read the original scene—the one I was convinced was better—I realized that I was wrong. In contrasting the two, I realized the rewrite was actually considerably stronger.
Maybe losing my work was actually a blessing.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been devastated by the disappearance of a piece? How did you cope? Tell me your worst writing-loss catastrophe.
Rewrite a scene.
Pick a scene from your work in progress (or even a practice you did a few days ago). Without looking at what you wrote originally, re-envision the scene, write it over again, and share it in the comments.