So, two years ago after my last book came out, I'd concluded my trilogy on a high note. The fans said it was a fitting cap to the story, my heroine had gone from introverted but curious explorer to still shy but fighting badass, and after three books of me teasing that the crew would get out of the Tower where the last remnants of humanity were trapped, they were finally outside.
And that's where the book ended, without me going into any details of waited in the outside world. It was my largest book to date, 90,000 words and packed with all the secrets, lore, and answers I'd been teasing since book one. And yet there was still that outside world to explore.
So, for two years I toiled away at a fourth book I felt could really carry on the story. I remember not wanting to repeat the sequelitis of Book Two and really wanting to push the world to a larger scope than any of my readers had imagined. And after a few months and 60,000 words, I realized I was only a quarter of the way through and had only just introduced my protagonist. Yes, my protagonist hadn't arrived on the scene until 60k words, the same length as my very first entire book.
Over the next year and a half I kept working, and per my normal style, I saved to different documents saved across both my PC and the cloud. And this week, I finally penned my ending. I put the emotional finish to 300,000 words, the largest book I'd ever written and five times as large as my first novel. It was time to edit.
Then . . . disaster.
I remember going to my OneDrive. You see, I was working from a document that had only the final 100,000 words. I assumed the document containing the previous 200,000 words were on the cloud. They were not. I managed to find a copy of the first 100,000 words on my hard drive after thorough searching, but I was still missing 100,000 words. This was the middle of the story, when I'd introduced emotional and personal conflicts. My protagonist was barely starting to take her place in the story and coming into severe conflict with the people that were supposed to be her friends. There was heart and emotion in that storytelling that I'd captured in emotional moments at three in the morning.
Gone. All of it. You see, my mother's computer had been linked to my OneDrive account, and I'd absentmindedly deleted the files while on her computer, not realizing that what I was actually doing was deleting my files, including the whole middle arc of the book. No amount of technical support could retrieve it, and even software meant to recover deleted files from wiped Recycle Bins couldn't find any copy.
I was at my wits end at two in the morning with no idea if I had it in me to write that middle section again. "This is how it ends," I thought. "This is how I tell everyone I won't be writing a fourth book after announcing I'd have the draft finished this coming year."
But then . . . I happened to notice an ancient, backup iPad of mine, the iPad 2. I opened it, and low and behold, having not been connected to the internet in almost a year and having all the old documents from a year past, it had a copy in memory of my old middle draft. Everything was there except for 12,000 words, a battle I could easily rewrite.
And so, today, the editing began. But let this be a warning to you, friends. Be extremely cautious in your drafting and take seriously the notion of having multiple copies, but just as importantly, have a system for knowing where you saved anything and don't delete willy nilly!