Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Sometimes I have to play writer pong between my work and internet computers, especially when someone uses the guest room, where I keep the work computer. I don't mind relocating upstairs to work on the internet computer, although it is older, not as fast and doesn't like the Dragon as much. It's that or get behind on my edits.

Tonight I forgot to bring a blank CD with me for backups, so rather than go downstairs I rummaged around in the desk to see if I'd left any up here the last time I played writer pong. That's when I unearthed an old floppy disk labeled only with a date: 3-18-03.

In the first couple years I was a pro I used to back up everything on floppies and date the labels instead of marking them with proper file names. I discovered what a dumb habit it was when I needed a backup of one of my original StarDoc manuscripts, and it took me two days of checking floppies to find it.

I didn't expect to find anything valuable when I popped the floppy in the drive; I wouldn't have been surprised if the computer couldn't read it. But there was a file (also titled with just the date) so I opened it to see what was inside.

Word started, and a forty-nine page manuscript of a story titled Possession popped onto my screen. I didn't remember it at first until I got to the notes I'd saved at the end of the manuscript. I'd written the story as a test drive of an idea I had for a dark fantasy novel about exorcism (which I then decided was cool but not particularly marketable, and put aside to work on something else.)

I don't remember why I never printed out the story or put it in the idea file, but it was neat to rediscover it. I'll have to sit down this weekend, read it over and see if maybe it's decent enough to post on Scribd (I still don't think it's marketable.) Note 9/3/10: Since instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I will not be posting this or any other document on their site. See my post about this scam here.

It also made me realize that in a couple of years I won't be able to read any of the stuff I have saved on floppies because they're no longer being made, and once I fry this computer, I'll probably have a tough time finding one with a floppy drive. So finding this story also nudged me to start seriously thinking about converting my sizeable collection of floppies over to CDs.

Have you ever found an old story you couldn't remember writing? What do you like to do with old stories once you've revisited your writing past?


  1. Anonymous3:08 AM

    At work we have USB floppy drives for machines that don't have floppy drives on board! Not that I'm encouraging procrastination in organization, but it's good to know.

  2. Amethyst3:49 AM

    Whenever I do any spring cleaning, I always run into stories that I'd forgotten about. Sometimes they're just leafs of loose paper. Other times, they're notebooks of written scenes. Most were written between 1998-2006 while I was in high school and college. I had a tendency to write when I should have been paying attention to my teacher. I've a mind to type everything up and saving them before the pencil markings begin to fade.

    Going through them takes me back to the past, what I was feeling at the time and everything I was going through. The memory of that moment in my life lingers with the words. I just have to re-read it to remember the past. Good times, definitely.

    I think I'm due for another spring cleaning soon :)

  3. What do you like to do with old stories once you've revisited your writing past?

    Shudder, usually and file them away in a deep, dark corner. Hah!

    Actually, I'll read and re-edit; sometimes, I'll post them to the free short story site. Which has reminded me to update it. sigh

  4. Oh, scads... and um, some are from high school in notebooks with purple ink. cringe.

    I'm saving them because while the WRITING sucks, a few of the ideas were decent. So I'm keeping them until I'm brave enough to dare the faded purple ink.

  5. I comb through old story files once in a while to see if anything is worth revisiting. Some of my files the new version of Word doesn't want to open, so I really ought to convert those.

    Please do copy your floppies onto CD, since the floppies will degrade and eventually you won't be able to copy off of them.

  6. Tammy8:57 AM

    Floppies are still being made, I know this for a fact becuase this comp uses them. This machine is 10 years old and while it does had a CD drive, that no longer works, the comp no longer lets me upgrade, etc, but the floppy drive works. Which is a good thing, because my digital camera is also old, it's a Sony that uses a floppy to store the picts on. While I do have a 2 year old laptop, I use this one for floppy disc stuff only any more. Also like Anonymous said they make USB drives so if this comp totally craps out sometime and I still have the camera, I might just get one of those to use for floppies.

    K I'll stop rambling now.

  7. Generally the first thing I do with an old story is laugh. Most of them are pretty awful, especially the ones from my university days. Those are filled with angst--and some weird sentence construction. But I have found a few that I've kept because I like the idea.

  8. Have you ever found an old story you couldn't remember writing?

    Foud two short-short stories printed out and stashed in a notebook. They'd definitely need work, don't know what I'd do with them, but the ideas were interesting.
    And what I thought was the beginning of a novel on a floppy. Thought I remembered writing about 20 pages. Turned out to be over 200! O_o

  9. After my last move, I came across a hardback journal thing that was entire 160pg handwritten novel dated from early college, unfinished.

    I have absolutely no memory of writing this. Creepy.

    It's on a shelf now with other bits of writing. The idea was neat.

    There is nothing wrong with purple pen, Shiloh ;) I still write in purple pen if I'm on paper.

  10. I just got a new computer and no, they don't come with floppy drives anymore. I'm totally dependent on my floppies, so I bought an external USB drive (only like $25). It's a little bit peevish some days, but it works well and I don't have to ween myself off floppies. Yet.

  11. I love finding old stories! (I used to save them on floppies too, but I think I got them all converted...) Sometimes I'm like, "Wow, that's so awful and cliche, I can't believe I wrote that."

    And then there are times that I say, "Wow, that's a good idea. And pretty decent writing if I do say so myself. I can't believe I wrote that!"

  12. You can buy an external floppy drive that plugs into a USB port. We have them at work to support some really archaic stuff.

    But you are probably much better off loading all your old floppies that you want to preserve to CD, external hard drive, memory card, USB drive, or network file server (like a web domain, or mail server where you have ftp access and can control access to the files). And best off doing at least 2 of the above and storing them in separate locations in case of fire, outage, sledghammer, etc.

  13. USB floppy drives work great, but I'm with Kristi, off loading is better.

    When I find an old story, the first thing I do is Edit, then shove it back to its dark corner, praising God I have the ability to grow and evolve

    Possession sounds interesting. I hope you post it.


  14. I found one a few weeks ago, and was delighted by how good I thought the writing still was. Usually in these situations, I try to decide whether the story idea could be worked into something marketable, since I will have to start submitting things for publication one of these days...

  15. I sometimes find stories I don't remember writing. Mostly, they're just fragments that never went anywhere.

    But once, while sorting through old papers from my university days, I found the print-out of a complete short story that I did not remember at all. It had a nice idea, decent writing and even some laughs. It was practically ready for submission, given my skill level back when I wrote it. I have no idea why I never did anything with it.

    I suspect that I wrote it as an assignment for the university creative writing class I attended at the time. I probably wrote it very quickly and read it out at the class, where it likely didn't meet with the approval of my teacher and fellow students (I was the only genre writer and the class didn't get half of my stories), so I put it away and forgot about it.

    I also had the interesting experience of having the editor of the university literature mag contact me to inform me that they wanted to print two poems of mine. I was like, "Poems? What poems? I'm about to finish my MA-thesis and I haven't written poetry, let alone submitted it to you in months." In the end, I asked the editor to mail me the poems and when I saw them, I did recognize them. I had indeed written them almost a year before and sent them to one of the editors with a "What do you think of those?" note and promptly forgot all about the poems, as the thesis took up all my time and brainpower. Somehow, they had ended up in the slush pile and made the cut with all three editors, including the one who flat out hated me.

  16. I just came across this story I wrote about a clan of Romanian Vampires I wrote several years ago. It was a wonderfully laid out story but more then suprised as I was to find it was to see how much my writing has evolved since then. So when and if I ever get through this Victorian manuscript I am working on now I will be rewriting this story in book form. Very cool discovery..

    Thanks for making me think about this again!!!

  17. Wait. Your internet computer doesn't like the Dragon? Should I ask what is the "Dragon"?

    As to finding old stories. Yes, Yes! I was doing to house cleaning and in one of the drawers in the kitchen I found an envelop. Inside the envelop I found a 28 paged 8.5" x 11" story I wrote on a typewriter from the 90s. The tentative name was "Crimsom Gate." The first thing I did was read it. It needs a lot of work but I like where it was going. I'm actually fairly impressed that I was able to write that many pages with a typewriter without a single outline.

    Anyhow I have since place "Crimson Gate" into my filing cabinet under the tab labels "Story Concepts."

    One day I'll get to it.


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