Tricia said: “Laptop, Open Manuscript.”
And the Laptop said, “File Not Found.”
Tricia said: “Look again, laptop. Find it, please.”
And the Laptop said, “File Not Found.”
And suddenly, it was gone.
I mean, it was not completely gone. The bulk of my manuscript existed, but my files and my cloud had no record of any changes since November 14. More than a month ago. More than a month of changes, ideas, and work.
I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the same thought. Every time I tell this story, each person responds with the same thought. Surely there must be some mistake. You’re probably looking in the wrong place. There must be a way to fix this.
I could not find it. Microsoft Help Desk could not find it. It could not be found.
You guys, this is a rookie mistake. I hadn’t lost a document in ten years.
I have systems in place for this. Microsoft has systems in place for this.
Losing a document is a thing of the late nineties.
We were so close to the deadline. It was Friday.
The manuscript was due on Monday.
There was weeping and gnashing of teeth in my writing studio. It was evidence of fatigue, of pushing too hard and too fast.
Ultimately, I knew I had a choice: I could spend a hundred hours trying to recover the lost document, or I could get back to work. I allowed myself to throw a fit, and then I decided to get back to work.
And as I dove back into the rewrites once again, a thought crossed my mind. A series of thoughts.
What if this document disappeared on purpose?
What if this disappearance is bigger than me?
What if this is a supernatural intervention?
What if God intercepted this document to protect me from releasing something that wasn’t finished?
What if this really needs to be re-written?
And if that’s the case, then I need to take this very seriously. I don’t need to work to remember what I’ve already written. I need to be open to what needs to be written.
We were so close to sending it to the next phase, and I felt like God had said no. A book about falling in love with the Bible? He wasn’t going to let me mail it in, no matter how close we were to the deadline.
If he said no to what I had made, then I wanted nothing to do with capturing those mistakes again.
God’s no is as important as his yes.
I would rewrite, indeed.
My writing studio became a sacred sanctuary.
I prayed over every word, every key stroke.
God, show me what to do.
Show me what to say.
Show me what I got wrong.
Show me how to do this.
Give me one bite at a time.
Feed this to me.
I stayed in my studio until it was done. And I clicked Save with nearly every exhale.
I sent it to my editor, Caitlyn, the brilliantly gifted one who turns my piles of sand into castles.
Caitlyn texted me upon her read through.
“I know it was such a headache to have to start the edits over,
but friend – whatever God did between the two sets of words,
this is so good.
I’m going through thinking, ‘Yup. Perfect. Yup. Exactly this. Wow. This is just the right thing.’
The words are perfect.”
Sometimes ‘perfect’ means without flaw; other times ‘perfect’ means complete.
Sometimes I do things in my own strength and of my own ideas; other times God says, “This is too important for you to do on your own. Let me show you how it’s done. Let’s start with File Not Found.”
In related news, my therapist said to me, “Tricia, you’re doing that thing you do where you try to barrel through December and stay so busy so you don’t have to feel anything. Stop doing that.”
(Upon further reflection, I think I do this also because something in my mind feels pretty sure that if I finish all the things, if I slow down, if I say it is done, then someone will die. If there are still things to do, then everyone will simply have to stay alive to do them. So stay busy. Spin with frenetic energy. Don’t sit down, slow down, feel down. Go, go, go. Keep everyone alive.)
It has been ten years. Ten.
They were five and three. Now they are fifteen and thirteen.
A decade has passed.
I feel it in my bones.
I turned in the manuscript.
I coached all the writers.
I baked all the cookies.
I wrapped all the gifts.
I will sit still now.
I will feel how I feel.
And maybe my heart will be light.