Friday, May 25, 2007

Brainstorm with me

I don't usually--er, ever--post about my staff. But one of my staffers had Something Bad happen to her laptop, and she is a poet, a bona fide poet who shows her portfolio to people who then give her fellowships and admit her to MFA programs and send her to writers' retreats, but she is also a young poet who has not much been published.

She has hard copies of her finished work, but no back-ups of anything still underway. It will cost a great deal of money by mostly-unpublished-poet standards to get all of her notes and works-in-progress off of her hard disk, if they can be gotten at all. The place that will do it has told her they won't charge her if they don't succeed, but success would mean a lot of money and she is loathe to ask for it "just" to spend on her work.

I am trying to talk her into fundraising, but fundraising would still be with the goal of paying someone back. (For the record, the someone in question is not me but a relative of hers.)

Gentle readers, what would you do if you had such a young woman in such a dilemma on your staff?

8 comments:

wolfa said...

I'm not clear what you mean by fundraising here, since it seems to differ in no way from borrowing money from a relative.

I suggest that if she's that uncomfortable, have her write some sort of contract to pay x$/week. Also that this money should cover an extra hundred or so bucks for a portable hard drive.

Jenny Davidson said...

But though I think she should definitely borrow the money if she really needs the stuff off the hard drive, there are times when losing writing that way can be perversely liberating. Especially if she's got hard copies of substantive and finished stuff, and perhaps of quite a lot of the miscellaneous notes and things, is it not possible that starting fresh on the stuff that's in draft might lead to some good new writing? Just to say that it really does depend on the status of the non-hard-copy stuff whether it's worth investing the money. Esp. if money really is needed for a new computer and a jump drive for future use...

S. said...

Wolfa, the idea would be to ask the relative for the money now, since the disk needs to be dealt with now, and then do some version of the contract thing you suggest. Fundraising would be to pay off the contract.

Jenny, you bring up a point I hadn't thought of. I think this week the loss was too fresh for her to see any way out of it.

Isabel said...

she needs a second opinion on the laptop, too.

oneofhismoms said...

This is going to sound really out-there, but it might behoove her to type it all over. I know, I know, this is not the dark ages. But speaking as a poet myself, when I have had to do such work in the past it put me in a different place with my work. It got me closer to it. I also made some revisions. It might be inspiring in a lots-of-extra-work kind of way.

Jody said...

I would definitely get a second opinion on the costs involved here. Charges can vary wildly, and we've been able to salvage completely inaccessible hard-drives (admittedly off of desktop computers) for no more than $50 in NC. Granted the computer itself was trashed, and granted struggling poets may have trouble even with $50, but truly I am having a hard time thinking of hard-drive recovery as a fundraising situation.

Maybe I'm just naive.

I would borrow the money after or while brainstorming reliable sources of pay-back income. Typically once a harddrive has failed, it's not going to continue to degrade, so she doesn't have to decide right this second if she's not comfortable borrowing without a payback plan.

(un)relaxeddad said...

I initially thought "borrow it" but on reading some of the other comments, I think the notion of bagging and storing the hard-drive and re-approaching the work is a thought. But if all the drafts for finished work are on there, she's going to want them back. But if she can bear to wait, raising some of the money first might make her feel better about it.

S. said...

I think it's interesting that the two avowed writers who stopped in to comment (welcome, oneofhismoms!) both think that rewriting the material might have its own rewards.

And I think all of you who question the cost know more about this kind of thing than I do, so I'll raise that with my staffer as well. (The quote she had was high because the physical damage to the disk means the data can't be retrieved using software alone. But I only think she's had the one quote.)