Botching it forward.
Speaking of doing stupid things and making life more difficult for myself (yes, I know that I wasn’t speaking of that, but really, I’m always speaking of that, one way or another), I managed to completely eff myself up a couple of weeks ago.
When I create a new draft version, I always make a copy of the previous one and then name it with the new draft number. Should make things easier, right? If the file says “draft 1” then there’s no way that I can mistakenly think that it’s actually draft 5.
When we sent out the reader copy for feedback, it was just a copy of draft 4 with a slightly different title page, though it probably should have been more like draft 38. I only move to a new version when some weird internal threshold has been reached, which is not necessarily related to the number of changes that have been made or how substantial those changes are. I think that some part of my brain recognized early on that the more files I had to juggle, the more likely I was to screw something up.
I managed to screw up when I only had five files to juggle, so I was probably on to something, there.
When I was going through the feedback and making the technical changes (spelling, typos, etc.), I grabbed draft 4, made a copy, renamed it draft 5, and started marking it up. Then I sent it to Derek to look over while I started contemplating the non-technical comments and suggestions. That was when he sounded the alarm: draft 5 was missing some of the changes that were supposed to be in draft 4, and were in the reader copy. It looks like I somehow managed to end up with two drafts marked 4, and then I somehow managed to grab the wrong one, and now I had to spend days reconciling the differences between draft 5 and the reader copy.
If that sounds like a pain in the ass, it really, really is. I ended up with draft 6, because apparently “massive version screw-up” is a threshold. I’m guessing that the real version of draft 4 is probably sitting in the cloud, and the bad version of draft 4 just didn’t get updated when it should have, but I’m too paranoid to mess with them now. I’ll never be able to move or delete them, because I’m convinced that I’ll end up deleting the wrong one. They’ll float around out there forever. Or at least until I accidentally wipe out one or more of my storage options. I can’t wait for the day when I manage to forget a Word password and can’t open a draft at all.
Moral of the story: Don’t be me.
I mean, yes, the moral should probably be something like “Be careful,” but that’s just so pointlessly obvious that it’s not even worth mentioning. I think the better lesson is to not be me. I mess up clearly-numbered versions. I step in cat puke the second I take off my socks. I say things like, “There’s no fart-free version of death” and then spend the next few hours thinking up ways to die that would get around that statement. I go apeshit when someone tries to sneak a can of soda into a movie theater. I chose my author nemesis before I hit puberty. (And yeah, he’s probably innocent of any wrongdoing, but that’s SO NOT THE POINT.) I like pickle-flavored potato chips, but I’m allergic to bananas, and that combination should probably be on a checklist somewhere under “Early signs that your partner will be a high-maintenance nightmare.” I talk to elevators. I can’t stop talking to elevators, because now they all know that I talk to them, so if I quit it will seem rude and they’ll probably send me plummeting down the shaft in retaliation…