I don't have to theorize on the fire question; I got to experience it firsthand when my apartment building was evacuated bright and early one Monday morning a few years ago (and I am very much in the Garfield school of thought when it comes to both mornings and Mondays - the cat, not the president).
I grabbed my great-grandmother's ring and my laptop.
In a way, they are equally important to me. And it has nothing to do with the laptop's worth as a piece of expensive electronic equipment and everything to do with the fact that almost all I've ever written from age 18 and up is somehow contained on that piece of aluminum. Mind you, I realize that most of it is crap. But it's my crap, you know. And what if one day, one of those pages of crap was just waiting to cocoon up and turn into a beautiful, shimmering butterfly that was worthy of being read by someone who wasn't bound to me by friendship or sheer kindness.
If I were to lose that 'what if,' I honestly don't know what I'd do. I'm pretty sure I'd feel something like Pi in Life of Pi. Adrift at sea in a raft. With a tiger. The tiger substituting nicely for the enormity of my grief and bewilderment.
Naturally, I back up. A lot. In fact, I have two hard drives - one which I started keeping at my parents' house in case there was a fire and my first hard drive burned right alongside my laptop. You could say I'm a worrier. But most writers (okay, maybe not Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, but most contemporary writers) have probably lost some pages due to these newfangled computer thingamajigahoys and can understand my paranoia. At least that's what I tell myself when I'm lying awake at night, trembling at the thought of UFOs kidnapping my electronics for purposes of analysis of our primitive culture. Not that I believe in UFOs. But what if I'm wrong?
A couple of weeks ago, my trusty 500 GB hard drive stopped working. It wouldn't show up on my desktop. It wouldn't let me back anything up. As I troubleshooted, I also started frantically e-mailing myself pages of my new project.
I'm happy to report that after a couple of weeks, a spare part, and a very scary few hours where I had to delete everything on my hard drive and reformat it (no, seriously, it was terrifying)... my laptop and my hard drive are together again at last.
See how cozily they're snuggled up? Perhaps I should be slightly comforted that, in case of fire, they will perish romantically by each other's side.