Claire King


A Cautionary Tale for Writers

Posted on: June 9th, 2013 by Claire - 24 Comments


This is a novel, code named ‘Candice’, drafted, redrafted and almost complete.


This is the Mac that I wrote the book on. I’ve had it 3 years and it’s still going strong.


This is the Mountain Lion OS, that chewed up my Mac and made a big mess.

 Disk OK

This is the screen that says things are OK, making this author cry Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Computer Says No

But this is the screen that says “Actually, no”.  Your Mac has now stopped and refuses to go.


This is the phone where I spoke to the man, who worked on the helpdesk and said “I’ve a plan!”

Here is the number of plans that worked out:                                                      0

And here is the point where the helpdesk bailed out           ——>                  .

Hard Disk

This is the hard drive that gave up the ghost. My words were inside it and now it was toast.

Time Capsule

Here is the Time Capsule, shiny and white, where I’d backed up my work just the previous night. This is the place of Schrodinger’s Book. The back up should work, but I’d no way to look.


Here is the print off I found in a drawer, 3 MS drafts old, from March or before.

I called all this paper my back-up plan ‘B’, but wished that I’d made back-ups ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘E’.


Here is the husband, home from Toulouse, back to a wife with the broken-Mac blues.

This is the man that fit the new drive, re-installed the OS and stayed up ’til 5.

Here’s the number of boots that said “Sorry, bad luck…”

“…But we can’t get your data, your back-up’s corrupt.” ————->       2


And here is the happy ending, thank fuck,

The third restore worked, we recovered my book.

24 Responses

  1. 😀 Love this (much as I feel your pain)! So glad it had a happy ending.

  2. Jennifer Johnson says:

    So glad this post had a happy ending 🙂

  3. Cathy Winsor says:


  4. Charlie says:

    Hubby here.

    To be fair to Macs and TimeCapsules (I speak as a PC chap, through and through) – they are both pretty slinky and reliable pieces of kit.

    Maybe too reliable.

    Had the Mac been less rock-solid, and the Time Capsule less quietly efficient in its taking of backups, a healthier level of paranoia might have been maintained in King Towers.

    The ‘Backup Corrupt’ was in fact “Backup temporarily unavailable”. Not comforting news, when its the only one you have (apart from 400 sheets of red-pen strewn A4 from two months ago).

    It is likely that the backup file in question was still marked as ‘open’ elsewhere, and hence unavailable. It’s equally likely that that was as a result of trying to restore from it onto what turned out to be a dying hard drive the night before.

    The fix that worked raised a wry smile: the deliciously PC cure-all of turning the Time Capsule off. And then turning it back on again.

    Had that not worked, apparently, I would have been mounting the file using obscure terminal commands, and using ‘vi’ to edit some esoteric configuration files…

    All that to say that Macs and Timecapsules are pretty solid technology as far as they go.

    The key learning, here, is that nothing can substitute for regular, TESTED, offsite backups.

    These days ‘offsite’ can be e-mailing yourself your most cherished files using GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo or the like. They can be iCloud, Dropbox, Google drive or any of the (often free) ‘cloud’ storage solution that are springing up here and there. They can even be posting yourself SD cards full of cherished data, or giving a weekly copy to your mate. They should contain anything that you can’t replace at PC World.

    Had we been burgled, or on fire, the oiks or flames would have likely taken the Mac, my PC, the Timecapsule, the telly and, in the latter case, the drawer full of manuscript.

    Offsite, folks.

    And tested.

    Hubby out.

    • Marcus Speh says:

      Well done is all I can say, except: get Ulysses III (backup with iCloud in addition to all the other good stuff you mentioned). There’s no editor for writers quite like it. I promise you’ll love it. Also: German. And to Claire: well told story of recovery. I was with you all the way!

  5. Jo Black says:

    hurrah for husbands 🙂

  6. Joanna says:

    I held my breath as I read your tale. Much relieved to hear the happy ending. I would endorse the sound advice of off site back-ups, we have them and have had to use them. The reassurance that they are there is comfort beyond all measure.

  7. Oh you poor thing. And how wonderful that it all worked out in the ned,, but oh my goodness what a heart-stopping few hours that must have been. Aaagh – how well I remember when the hard drive of my macbook failed, with novel no 1 inside. However, a few days before it happened, someone had told me I ought to be emailing it to meself, so I did. Thank the lord!

    • claire says:

      I’ve been emailing mine to myself too, but not as often as I should. Also backing up occasionally to another external hard drive AND a USB key. But now I’ll be saving every iteration offline as well as on the various drives at home. Belt, Braces, Glue, Sellotape and a sonic screwdriver.

  8. Peggy says:

    Holy Toledo! So relieved there was a happy ending!

  9. Tom Gold says:

    Sounds like somebody’s read the very excellent ‘Snail on the Whale’ by Julia Donaldson!
    Well done recovering the words by the way – sometimes losing something valuable and then getting it back is better than not having lost it all.

    • claire says:

      Hi Tom, Oh we have read the wonderful ‘Snail on the Whale’ many times. Such a great book. Also brilliantly done in rhyming couplets if you have kids is ‘Duck in the Truck’ by Jez Alborough. Also apparently a book called ‘This is the Bear’ but I haven’t read that one. 🙂

  10. Use Dropbox or Google Drive! So easy and free and you’ll never have this worry again!

  11. Stephen Mark says:

    Hi, Claire

    So glad you managed to recover your book. I think I’d have gone mad way before the thing was recovered. Yep, belt, braces; everything in at least triplicate. There is an old tecky saying: If it isn’t in at least three different places, it doesn’t exist. 🙂

  12. Whisks says:

    What a fun pome, to relate the story of a non-fun experience. Gave me the horries. Glad your shining knight galloped up to save you. Phew.

  13. Joanne says:

    So glad you were able to recover your work, I’ve been in a similar situation when unfortunately I was unable to recover the documents. Might I suggest that at the end of each day you email whatever you have worked on that day to yourself and just put the date into the subject line. This way it is very easy to recover anything you lose. This is what works for me anyway 🙂 xx

    • claire says:

      Thanks, Joanne. I do email myself copies, but not as a matter of course, I think because I work in Scrivener. However now I’ve started using cloud-based backups too, and verifying them. I don’t ever want to go through that again! x

  14. t upchurch says:

    Go CK! That’s got to be worth some good hubby treats — and big yay for your ms. Almost done, that’s so cool, lovely name. x

  15. I’ve only just seen this, that must have been awful to go through! So, so glad that it had a happy ending! x

  16. Compelling story – hooked right until the end when I felt like cheering…can’t say more because I realise I have to go and do something very important right now. Thanks for the reminder!

  17. Helen says:

    I like the way you incorporate that northern accent to make “fuck” rhyme with “book”.

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