When did you last back up? Inspiration from The Singing Detective

The Singing Detective I was watching an episode of the fantastic 1986 TV Drama The Singing Detective last night, and I was reminded just how much a viewer or a reader brings of themselves to a story.

Picture the scene, Nicola (Janet Suzman) has just finished typing up Marlow’s screenplay that he’d had stored in an old shoebox. She’s typed it into an, at the time, state of the art word-processor.  It’s hard to resist a chuckle looking back at how proud they are of such primitive technology. Especially if you’re watching the episode on iPlayer!

The chuckle turns quickly to a shudder though as Finney  (Patrick Malahide) smugly holds up the 5¼” floppy disk and says:

‘Now we’ve got it safely on disk, we can shred that old shoe box…’

I’m sure as we watched it at the time we all thought that was quite a reasonable idea. But now, with benefit of hindsight and the improvements in technology, it sounds ridiculous. “Safely on disk”? There’s no such thing. Knowing the volatility and unreliability of floppy disks, it’s a quite terrifying idea to rely on one for your only copy of a manuscript.

And every writer who’s ever seen or read Stephen King’s Misery will know the pain and suffering that can unfold when you have only one vulnerable copy of your precious work.

I came straight upstairs and made sure I had a back up of my work-in-progress. And a back up of the back up. I’ve worked with computers for long enough to know that they can’t be trusted with anything.

When was the last time you backed up? Do it now!


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