This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has urged writers to have a backup plan in place for their work. She suggested a variety of ways including storage on USBs or external hard drives, in the cloud or as hard copies. She also warned that no method is fail-safe.
The cautionary post preceded, as her posts often do, a flash fiction challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the term backup. You can back up or have a backup, just go where the prompt leads! However, there is no suggestion of caution in her final phrase ‘go where the prompt leads’.
When I began to consider how I might use the term ‘backup’, I was soon faced with the complexity of our language and wondering how we ever learn to make any sense of it at all.
Back up may be used as a two-word-phrase or as a compound word. The words, with their regular short vowel sounds and consonants, are easy to read and pronounce, even for the youngest beginning readers. Individually, their meanings are clear. Back refers to a part of the body or a location behind. Up is the opposite of down. But put them together and the complexity of meaning emerges with possible use as nouns, verbs or adjectives.
Below are some examples of meanings that can be applied to the phrase:
Perhaps the most literal translation is in reference to a feeling of annoyance; for example, He got his back up when they insinuated he was always late for work. This use comes from a cat arching its back when annoyed.
The truck driver was told to back up to avoid blocking the driveway.
He had to reconsider and back up when the others told him he was wrong.
Teachers may need to back up on what they had planned when they realise the children are not understanding their lessons.
The backup of traffic was caused by an earlier accident on the narrow bridge.
The water would back up in the gutters and overflow every time it rained due to the leaves from the overhanging trees.
It is important to back up any science report with evidence from research.
The situation was escalating, and the police were relieved when backup arrived.
The backup singer was required to take the lead when the performer got laryngitis.
You need a backup plan in case this one doesn’t work.
You need to backup your digital work in case your computer crashes.
One birthday, thoughtful Hub gifted me a wearable device for supporting my posture during long hours at my desk. Sadly, it was complicated, and he was the only one to don it, semi-successfully. Those of us less brave to even attempt were in stitches as he manoeuvred himself into it. Having failed to convince me or anyone else to try, it has been relegated to the back of an (unknown) cupboard ever since. Mere mention of the BackUp causes fits of laughter and it remained #1 inappropriate gift for many years – until he presented man perfume on another birthday.
This is a true story. No names have been changed to protect the innocent. I tried to find an image of the device online, but it seems the design has probably improved over the years. The one Hub gave me had straps to go around the knees as well as the back.
You’d think with all the different meanings of ‘back up’ that I’d have no trouble finding a story to write. However, since the description of my birthday surprise is 99 words, no more no less, and for the fact that I have no backup plan, that true story will be my contribution this week. I hope you like it. Perhaps truth is stranger than fiction.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.