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Saving Your Sanity (In Five Easy Steps)

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It started with Halloween. 


Or rather, thinking about Halloween and a story I’d written years ago and how that story would be the perfect Halloween post on my personal blog. Yep, I’d share that story with the whole wide web world. Except for one teensy problem: I had no idea what the name of the story was. 

Okay, Cathy, I said to myself, no need to make yourself crazy. You can figure this out. So off I went to my website to search through the archives of the blog. Because back in the day, I had a feature called “Tooting My Horn” Tuesday and just a key word or two (in this case, fairy tales) would send me right to the story. So step one, I searched my blog and Eureka! There it was! A story called “Not Exactly Innocent” and I confidently clicked on the link to take me to the story. 

Except the link didn’t work. Okay, no problem. In fact, it confirmed that the story was no longer on the web which was necessary if I were to run the story on my blog. But just to be sure (and thanks to all the fine things I’d said about my story and such, I now knew the name of the webzine), I moved on to step two, and found the webzine. Yay! 

But all my searching on the webzine did not produce the story. It did, however, bring up my name and a poem I’d also written that had appeared in this webzine. And so step three, I had to read this lovely and erudite essay by a fine fellow who said all kinds of smart things about my poem. I had no idea I’d said all that in my simple poem but who am I to argue with a college professor? Except as smart as I now felt, I still did not have my story. 

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why, with title in hand, I didn’t just search amongst my many files? And though I’m loathe to admit it, I will tell you the sad truth. Namely, that the story, along with hundreds of other stories, were on my old laptop, the laptop I called Precious. And back when I switched from Precious (who had seen far better days) to my shiny new laptop, I used a flash drive and downloaded all of the files from Precious. But here I was at step four, kicking myself and pulling out my hair, because I did not know where that precious (pun intended) flash drive was. And I had never quite got round to downloading all my stories on this laptop. 

Is there any worse feeling, dear writers, than to suddenly realize that your story may never be read again because you were such a nincompoop? My sanity was teetering until…was it possible? Would my brilliant idea work? 

I opened up my email—the same email that I have had for lo, these many years—and I clicked on my Sent folder. And step five, I searched for the webzine and the story title and thanks to the wonders of amazing technology, there it was! Way back in 2009, the story! Attached to the email when I’d submitted it! 

And I smiled, friends, as I read that story. It was truly a perfect story for Halloween and since it was no longer on the webzine, I could put it on my blog for a funny, creepy post. Except… 

It really was such a good story, and I thought, Cathy C. Hall, you know what? You could sell that story again. 

So I’ll let you know how that goes. And in the meantime, think long and hard before tossing away an old email. Laptops can fry, links can die, and flash drives can disappear. But an email is (thank goodness!) forever.

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