Monday 16 October 2017

Finding Treasure in Boxes...

Now I need to say at the start this treasure is not the archetypal pirate treasure- coins, jewellery and other goodies along with the odd skull.

This treasure is my past writings.

As a teenager I used a pen and pages of A4. I moved on to a portable typewriter, and from there to a Brother Word Processor- work was saved to floppy disks. (Yes we're talking 20th century...)

Then I moved onto my first computer (an XP) with a floppy disk drive in the tower, so I carried on using them.

When that computer eventually died Windows 7 was the latest operating system; but it didn't have a floppy disk drive anymore, so I had to buy an external version with the USB connection.

I was able to access some of the items, but others were unreadable. I left them in the storage box and resigned myself to searching for a programme that would enable my computer to read my saved work. It never happened and I packed the box away somewhere.

After all I did have some of the work printed out ...somewhere.

Then last weekend, clearing one of the shelves in the corner bookcase- it needs to be moved for the rewiring work- I pulled out a compact blue box from the corner. I knew what it was instantly. My floppy disks.

A box of treasure
Downing the small paintbrush (for dusting books) and soft cloth I went to my office and rummaged on the shelf for the floppy disk reader- would it even work on the Windows 10 desktop?

I plugged in the USB and nothing, it wasn't recognised. All my excitement at my discovery went pancake flat. As a final check before unplugging I opened File Explorer and there it was.

Floppy disk reader, old manuscripts
file box...

Reviewing the floppies I chose one labelled short stories 1, inserted it into the reader, listened as it whirred noisily, and then a box opened on my screen displaying numbered stories (SS1, SS2 etc).

Clicking on the first one, Notepad opened the story; I scrolled down and I immediately remembered writing that tale- it was one I'd wanted to rewrite, but thought lost forever.

Opening more,assured me they were okay, so I set about copying and pasting from Notepad into a Word document.

Then I found the disks from my first incomplete novel; I'd started writing it in 2000 and got to about 40,000 words where I'd reached my planned ending. That was when I realised that I'd only gotten half way, there was more story to follow- the possibilities had quickly started flowing through my mind.

 But I stopped there. I realised that I didn't have the skills I needed to complete it- I didn't know anything about writing drafts. I had to go and learn how to write properly. That was how I came to join the local writers' club.

So it was with some trepidation that I now slipped the novel disk into the reader, but all that came up was a box showing formatting and asking me what I wanted to display it in, there were three choices, and in my disappointment I didn't really take in what it was asking me.

As I tried the other disks the same problem, my disappointment grew until I stopped and read what was being asked. I chose an option but nothing happened; it was a frustrated turn of the mouse wheel that scrolled down the box a bit,  and there among the little formatting symbols was text I could read!

I began the copying and pasting again but accepted I needed to do this a bit at a time, so saved and backed-up everything I'd transferred.

That box isn't going to be packed away anywhere for some time.

So if I'm ever irritated by something Windows 10 does, please remind me that it helped me retrieve my early writing that I thought had been lost forever...


Teresa Ashby said...

What a wonderful find, Carol. And that's a useful tip - using a paintbrush to dust books, thank you :-) x

Patsy said...

So glad you found your lost treasures!

liz young said...

All I have left of my early writing is (are?) poems in a small hardback notebook.
If I'd been a hoarder I might have undiscovered treasure too!

Julia Thorley said...

Hi Carol. I've hopped over here from Patsy's blog where I saw your mention of the Christmas Carol comp, thank you. Your post here about rediscovered treasure is lovely. What a find. It chimes quite nicely with my own thoughts about old stories, which I posted here:

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Wow - what a find, Carol, and I'm so glad you've managed to retrieve some of the writing and can maybe update it now. Think I lost a few stories when I couldn't open a zip disc some years ago. How technology changes - who knows what we might need in future!

Carolb said...

Teresa- if you hold the book by the spine, then dust toward the opening end it's much better.

I was just doing the front of the book shelves, so used the paintbrush to gather the dust together and then the vac to suck the dust away. :-)

Patsy- another reason not to throw anything away just because of new technology. :D

Lizy- at least you have those poems still.x

Julia- thanks for popping over from Patsy's blog. I'll be visiting your blog post when I have a few spare minutes. Thank you. :-)

Rosemary- I'm sure you found a few things when you were moving home a few months ago. I have rehomed some of the books I'm not keeping, but I'll definitely be using my old writing after I've read through and updated it. :-)

Lindsay said...

It's so interesting to look back at one's work! Some might be quite impressive and some perhaps not as skills increase over the years. I do hope you enjoy re-reading and are inspired to pick up some where you left off. Better than pirate treasure I reckon!

seaviewwarrenpoint said...

Glad you found your work, Carol. Reminds me that I have piles of paper to wade through of writing from our weekly meetings, workshops, even an OU creative writing conference...but I dread the thought of doing this so much that I'll probably chuck everything out!


Carolb said...

Lindsay- it's quite strange as there are stories I remember writing, and they stuck in my memory, and others I vaguely remember, and the rest I can't remember at all but know they were written by me, as awful as they were.

I will revisit them all once the work on the wiring is done, and some order is restored to my office. :-)

Marion- I have found a lot of stuff to sort, recycle, and shred for the recycling centre. I'm sure I will be more organised once it's all been looked at. Good luck with your pile of paper. :-)

Angela Barton said...

Hello Carol

Ahh - the floppy disc! Nowadays youngsters would think it was a back ailment!

I'm so pleased you found your writing treasures, but the big question is, are you going to finish your long lost novel?