Monday, January 12, 2015

Louisiana: A Creative Setback

James Lee Burke. Source: James Lee Burke.

There are 20 Dave Robicheaux books written by South Louisiana native, James Lee Burke.

Throughout my year in Louisiana, I've used Dave as a prism to view the past, present, and future of South Louisiana - people, natural resources, beauty, ugliness, fears, potential.

As I read each of Dave's books, I collected excerpts that I found of special note. All of the excerpts illuminated South Louisiana in vivid ways.

When I say "collect," I mean I manually keyed the excerpts into a draft blog post that served as a warehouse of sorts. Over the course of the year, I harvested salient excerpts from this warehouse to enrich posts I wrote about my South Louisiana experience.

What happened

I had read 19 of the Dave books and was in the midst of the 20th when it happened. In a tragic cascade of errors on my part, I deleted my warehouse of excerpts.

All attempts to recover my treasure were futile. This is because: 
  1. I hadn't backed up my draft post onto a Word document JUST IN CASE I did something stupid. (The fact that I had never accidentally deleted a draft post is entirely irrelevant - back-up strategies exist for the inevitable failure of all systems at some point.) 
  2. I had set my browser to not save any history. 
  3. I had blithely accepted blogger's auto-save feature. 

If any ONE of the above situations had been different, I could have retrieved my pre-deleted draft because I discovered the deletion so soon after it occurred.

What next?

I grieved for several days and pondered my choices:
  1. Be happy for the excerpts I'd already been able to weave into the blog and let the loss go; or 
  2. Re-read all 20 books and recreate my inventory.
Some of the books I'd borrowed in hard-copy from the library. Others I'd downloaded onto my Kindle.

The decision

I decided to re-collect the excerpts. James Lee Burke's vision of South Louisiana is that important to my experience, and his is a perspective I want others to know about, too.

Fortunately, I had used Kindle's bookmark feature for those books I'd downloaded from the library. When I returned a downloaded book to the library, I couldn't access the bookmarks. But if I borrowed and downloaded a book again from the library, I could again access the bookmarks. Yay! 90% of the job done for those I'd previously downloaded, the only chore being to re-key the exerpts.

For books I'd borrowed hard-copy, this meant going through page by page to seek the excerpts.

Once I decided to re-do my work, I accepted the situation and got started. I'm still in process of re-creating what I lost.

Oh and yeah. Now I back up my progress on a Word doc, and I've re-set my browser to keep my history.

Here's a list of how Dave has helped guide me through South Louisiana thus far:


C'est la vie, cher.




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