Saturday, October 24, 2015

Paper Trail


As I weed and ameliorate old copies of typed poems, & their revisions, with the electronic files on my hard drives, and with this blog (I've been posting my work by year as a means to keep track of it all—and it creates a nifty timeline as well), I have an ever-increasing pile of paper poems with no electronic files. No equivalents. Only hard copies. Makes me shudder. Makes me wonder what was lost.

So, I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that the dearth of work from 1995-2000 may be due to hard drive failure? This insane archiving process all started a couple of summers ago when I realized I couldn't open some old poetry and prose files, they'd reverted to gray Unix bricks. Other files, that I could force open, had lost chunks of text. Sometimes vast chunks of text. A writer's nightmare. And so, it continues. 

I had typed most of my old work from the early 80s into Appleworks, which later created a translation problem, but I was able to salvage most of it with old Macs I had rebuilt, but this paper trail is an entirely new dilemma as I contemplate what writing was lost. 

Words no writer ever wants to hear.

Weird to revisit that old writing, if I can find it, that is. I came across a pile of poems I had workshopped at Napa Poetry Conferences and realized that I didn't have electronic files for most of them. But clearly they had been electronic files as the hard copies are printed out in faded dot matrix.

I also found a few lurkers in back issues of Sonoma Mandala and other old publications from the 1980s. I still have a few more boxes of papers to sort, so hopefully the missing work will resurface. It's bad enough that I've lost most of my news stories and photo tear sheets from the Sonnoma County Stump and The Paper. But not my poems. Not the gumdrop muffins!

I figure I have a fighting chance to keep my work electronically current by using my blog! Alas, most of of my work is not on paper. Unfortunately it would kill the equivalent of an entire forest to print it all out. It was wildly liberating to know that you don't have to print out hard copy. My writing output grew exponentially.

Remember those electronic printer typewriters that printed out a line at a time? Expensive little film ink cartridges. Some of my work was from that machine, so there would be no electronic equivalents. But even still. Sheesh.

Some of those poems I had saved from the he 5 inch floppy disks to the the 3.5 inch ones. Even files on the 3.5" hard floppy disks are a challenge to rescue. The floppy dist themselves are reverting to ferrous oxide. I trolled them a while back.

I got a USB floppy disk reader (hard to find!)  from Craigslist. I met an Indian fellow in a San Jose parking lot at sunset. Very clandestine. But I suppose I could attempt another trolling. No matter how we back up our writing, it's all temporal. 

I think I decided a lot of my old writing wasn't worth upgrading to .doc files. I left it go fallow, not realizing it's all part of the matrix. 

A friend said: it is alive and well on some cloud out there... perhaps entertaining multitudes in outer galaxies.

Along with those old Jackie Gleason reruns.

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