Lost in the Archives

Kate Flora: Later this week, we are giving you a tour of where we all work. I’ll include a IMG_1724photo of one of my desks. The neater one. The one where you can tell there’s wood beneath the paper. My other desk has drowned in a sea of paper.

Some of this paper are the many, many drafts of the books I’ve written. Before most of my editing happened on the screen, I would usually go through four to six (sometimes more!) drafts of every book. Now my office is full of these drafts, along with files of research for the books, and much much more.

The reason I am late blogging today is that I got lost in my archives. This morning, my publisher having suggested that I start a new series, I went digging through the files, trying to find the three draft books in my unpublished Ross McIntyre series. I got covered in dust, and unearth what I believe are the first and third, and a piece of the second. The third is, of course, missing chapter one, and I have no idea where it might be.

This sounds like I am flakier than I really am. Everything was also saved on disks. But the disks belong to an ancient operating system and neither my current computer nor my last two, can read them. Yes. It’s true. In one corner of my office, I have a stack of retired computers, saved against just such a day as this. But they, alas, are too new to read books I wrote back in the nineties.

IMG_1723Okay, I say to myself. I will make it my next project to go back through the Ross McIntyres and see if they still have potential. But maybe, instead, I could work on my architect series. That’s one where I started writing book one, realized I had two stories, unraveled the plots, took the book apart, and finished book one. Originally, it was called “Death is in the Details” but as the plot evolved, it became “Bones are Bad for Business.” Great. I found two notebooks. One had some early chapters and story treatments. The other had part of the book, but not the ending. It does have some of the cool research, where a generous police officer in Delaware sent me reams of information about how to exhume a buried body. The research became very helpful when I was working on Finding Amy.But there is no sign of the ending of the book. Next I will go and look in the basement.

IMG_1720There is also no sign, anywhere, of the beginning of book two, where Lavinia Malcolm, our heroine, becomes the prime suspect when her awful ex-husband is found nail-gunned to the foundation of a building she designed, where she is supervising the construction.

I also have files of my interviews with architects as I worked to try and see the world through the eyes of an architect. I wanted to know what Lavinia, Vinnie, saw when she looked at a building or walked into a room. It took months, but one day, suddenly, I was watching her move walls and change windows and knew I had my begun to understand my character. Now, alas, it seems like Vinnie is lost in the archives.

Later today, I will go to the bank and see if possibly there are disks in my safe deposit IMG_1718box which, if I can read them, may give me the ending of book one.

All of this is a cautionary tale. Be careful about saving your files, moving them in updated form to your new computers, and especially careful about saving hard copies. Your office may end up looking like mine, but at least you’ll have the stories.

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7 Responses to Lost in the Archives

  1. Sandra Neily says:

    HiKate! Oh I so VOTE (re Clue) for Lavinia with the nail gun at the construction site. Women with power tools are very sexy!

  2. Charlene Fox Clemons says:

    Oh, Kate, you made me feel so much better about the state of my office! By the way, if my desk looked as good as the one in your photo…I would be a happy writer!

  3. kaitlynkathy says:

    Kate—hoping you find or can reconstruct all the missing pieces. The architect one sounds intriguing. I agree 100% about printing copies. I print each day’s writing as well as making multiple electronic backups. But I don’t save earlier versions in any form, which cuts down a little on the paper deluge. I’ve also destroyed all copies of my earliest attempts to write historical novels. No way do I want anyone but me and the few editors who rejected them back in the 1970s to ever see how bad they were! On the other hand, I still have the printouts of a YA or two I wrote on the old Tandy 1000 that was my first computer, and have since retyped them into Word. One of these days. . .

  4. Julianne says:

    It is possible that one of your local indi computer services could read the discs for you. It is also possible that one of the local schools still has equipment that could read them. And I bet your local government offices are still using old equipment. You might get lucky!

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