I know how Hemingway felt when Hadley (his first wife) lost a suitcase filled with his manuscripts at the Gare de Lyon as she was traveling to Geneva to meet him on that day in December 1922. The suitcase contained original and carbon copies of the early Nick Adams stories about Michigan and short stories he had been working on for months.
In “A Moveable Feast,” Hemingway describes the encounter:
“I had never seen anyone hurt by a thing other than death or unbearable suffering except Hadley when she told me about the things being gone. She had cried and cried and could not tell me. I told her that no matter what the dreadful thing was that had happened nothing could be that bad, and whatever it was, it was all right and not to worry. We could work it out. Then, finally, she told me. I was sure she could not have brought the carbons too and I hired someone to cover for me on my newspaper job. I was making good money then at journalism, and took the train for Paris. It was true alright and I remember what I did in the night after I let myself into the flat and found it was true.”
The suitcase and manuscripts were never found.
Yes, I know how Ernest must have felt. This morning at 4 a.m., I lost a Word file of “Random Notes,” which I’ve kept for many years. I tried everything possible to retrieve the file, but it’s gone.
So I did what any self-respecting author would do: I had a beer and cried. Then I wrote this post.