Today I lost my thesis draft

You hear about it happening every year, and each year you think, “That will never happen to me.” You think lots of other things, too, like, “I bet s/he started the draft the night before and conveniently lost it.” Or, “How can you still be stupid enough not to back up your work!” And, when it happens to your friend, you may even tease him for not backing up his draft. Sorry, Bertram…

Then you realize why people sometimes call Karma by that ugly name of hers. You lose your thesis draft the day it is due. You also sit in the library and curse and cry, running from computer to computer trying to find one that will open your document. Each one mocks you with the same message, “Windows is unable to open your file because it is corrupted.” Corrupted? CORRUPTED! You pass from desperation to becoming irate because a computer-generated message is making you feel incompetent. You laugh to keep from crying. You cry anyway. People may begin to stare…

Today, I lost my thesis draft. I saved it every three seconds to my computer, my flash drive, and, when I finished, my email. Only the initial version was saved, and I lost hours of work. My computer didn’t crash; I didn’t forget to save it in several places; I started well in advance I didn’t save it all for the day it was due. And there it went…

After I stopped dry heaving (I kid), I realized that I was most upset that I’d never get back what I wrote. (Um, duh!) The content was still fresh on my brain, but do you know how sometimes when you’re writing there are moments  when you convey the information in a really fine way? Where the words and ideas are perfectly ordered? I lost the product of when mechanical academic writing becomes fun! Playing with ideas, playing with words, making work into play! That is what thesis has been, at least some of the time. (I’ve been learning a lot about this in an aesthetics seminar with Professor Kathleen Wright, rolling my eyes on the inside whenever she tried to get us to see how writing essays can be play. I get it, now.)

Although I am bitter that I lost my work, I am also grateful that I have time to explore a topic that I enjoy. I am also curiously pleased that I have been initiated into the scores of lowly seniors who have lost theses. I may have lost my draft, but I have gained imagined solidarity and a funny story… (Thesis – 1, Candace – 0)

Have any of you ever lost portions of your thesis or other important work?

One thought on “Today I lost my thesis draft

  1. Candace, I am feeling your pain. This reminds me of a time that I was submitting a letter of recommendation for a student applying to Teach For America through its new (to me) automated website, and instead of hitting “save” I hit “clear.” And what had been about 45 minutes of what I thought was particularly insightful, elegant, and thoughtful prose about this particular student’s capacities, talents, and experience I lost it (both the letter of rec and my patience) and started anew. I think that the second version was better, since it was then really a letter about how amazing the student was instead of me demonstrating my cleverness in showing how amazing the student was, so maybe the web djinns were on to something when the wiped the slate clean the first time.

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