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Joyce P Tres

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Les sources de valeurs
by Antoine Raphael

Il s'agit de la peau dure de l'essai du meme nom..  
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Chili Again
By Joyce P Tres
Friday, November 17, 2006

Rated "G" by the Author.

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What happens when a writer is one thousand words from finishing a best seller and the computer eats it?

My fingers flew across the keyboard like a musician playing her favorite refrain. It was Friday afternoon and I had a thousand words to the completion of my first novel. I could hear the cork pop out of the bottle of champagne kept in the refrigerator for just an auspicious occasion. I reached for the coffee cup which sat to the right of my keyboard, drank deeply, and felt the caffeine infuse me with a surge of determination. Setting down the cup, my fingers once again played across the keyboard. The end of the story had run repeatedly in my mind over the last six months. Elated, the story seemed to flow, the crucial end seemed to float to the tips of my fingers, and appear on the monitor screen. I could see the finish line; the end was so near. 


Then a whirling sound emanated from the console that held my hard drive. The whirling turned into a grinding, metal ground metal, little square boxes and squiggly lines appeared where my last chapter had been. Then the screen went black and I stared into an abyss.


“No!” I screamed. “Please, if there is a computer God, let her hear me now. I promise to back up my files more often.” Nothing but blackness looked back at me. “No!” I screamed again, jumping up out of the chair, and kicking the air. “No, no, no! Don’t do this.”


My dog looked up from where he slept, neglected under my desk. I returned to the computer; hit the restart button, nothing. My entire novel was on that computer, my last backup a week ago. Five thousand words a day, thirty-five thousand words lost. I looked at the computer it stared back with dead eyes. Quickly, I called my computer tech and was told the possibility of salvaging the contents on my hard drive were nil. However, he told me he would try if I brought it by the next day. Can I hope? No, he told me not to hope.


After I stared at the black monitor of my discontent for fifteen minutes, I rose to retrieve a bottle of merlot and a wineglass, and then returned to take vigil at the computer. The black screen mocked me; I poured the wine into the glass and took a sip. 


My husband found me, an hour later, when he returned from work. My feet up on the desk, I leaned back in my chair, the bottle of merlot diminished by a glass.


“Bad day?” He leaned down, kissed me, took the glass of wine, sipped, and returned the glass to my hand.

“The computer died today and took thirty-five thousand words of my novel with it.” I was numb with disbelief.


“I’m sorry, “he said, left the room for a moment, returned with a glass, and poured some wine.


We sat there, he with his glass of wine, me with mine, and looked at the beast of a machine that ate my novel.


“Hemingway once lost a whole briefcase of work. He said it was the best thing that ever happened to him.” My husband’s comforting words resonated through my gloom.


“Those were the best words I’d ever written. I’m sure of it.” I whispered still numb with my loss.


“You’ll write the words again.” He picked up the empty wine glasses, the wine bottle, and walked toward the kitchen. I rose from the chair and followed. 


“You know what this means, don’t you?” I wrapped my arms around him. 


“Yes. It means I’ll be eating chili again for at least another week.” He smiled down at me. 


I had to smile back. My husband eats chili every night for weeks at a time; he also shops when we need food, vacuums when the dust bunnies threaten to over take the house, walks the neglected dog twice a day, and anything else to let me write. He supports my dream when so few others have. If he can do all that, I can reconstruct the thirty-five thousand words I lost. Who knows? Maybe losing my work will be the best thing that ever happened to me. No, my husband is the best thing that ever happened to me. However, my finished novel will definitely come in second.


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Reviewed by Cynthia Borris 11/17/2006

You're not alone. Did you get back up and running and toast the end with the champagne? Or should we send more Merlot?


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