By this time, the alert reader has doubtless deduced that I just did this to myself and have been talking myself out of making a mountain out of a molehill. And, no, it isn’t a disaster. All I’ve done by some carelessness regarding my backup files is lost about a month’s worth of slogging through archives that I can readily re-access—really, a first-world and modern-life sort of problem. Compare that to what faced a pre-computer author who had to type everything out—or, better yet, write it out by hand—and then somehow lost the manuscript. (This is said to have actually happened to no less a figure than Sir Isaac Newton, who according to the story had just finished writing out a manuscript for publication but had not put it safely away before taking a break. He returned to find that his pet spaniel, Diamond, had gotten hold of his work and [depending on the source] either knocked a candle over onto it, starting a fire, or enthusiastically used it for a chew toy. Either way, he ruined everything. Some people would probably have flung the dog out of the nearest window if this had happened to them, and never mind if the window was on the third story or was closed. All Sir Isaac did was take his pet’s head between his hands and say, “Oh, Diamond! Diamond! Thou little knowest what mischief thou hast done!” before picking up his quill pen and beginning the tedious task of rewriting.)
Having been through this, I will probably be more careful about my backups, at least for a while—I’m human, after all, and prone to shoving relatively uninteresting things to the back burner. (I suppose some would say that I should start using a cloud backup service with automatic uploads, but—call me paranoid if you want to—I don’t trust either hackers or Big Tech with that easy an access point to my computer and my personal business, given the frequency of data breaches these days.) In the meantime, if my little cautionary tale encourages the writers among my readers to avoid losing their work by avoiding my error, I suppose some good will have come out of it.