That Time When I Lost a Manuscript


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.”

I had spent weeks working on my second round of edits for my new book, This Book Is For You: Loving God’s Words in Your Actual Life.2F4E429D-F16A-450F-B827-E27B3F070081

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 thisMicrosoft 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.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. I’m speechless because I get it. Thank you.

  2. Tricia, you are such a soul sister. I am way older than you and my hair is not nearly so cool, but losing a manuscript? Ah yes. And since we share the same wonderful editor, CC, I love that you shared her words as well. Just came up on the one-year anniversary of losing my mom, who lived with us, and realized I was doing exactly what you described – barreling through December to stay busy so I wouldn’t have to feel all the feels. Thank you for finding the words in the dark corners where they hide out, and bringing them into the light.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I find those “Milestone” anniversaries harder. Ten.. even I say, how can that be? Where did a decade go?
    Fourth Christmas without my Rob this year. Surviving a heart attack… and wondering why did God keep me here? Why isn’t He finished with me on earth yet? Searching for that…. being present to my “feels” and loving life, being content, at the same time. Hugs my friend.

  4. Your transparency touches my heart. Your willingness to listen and heed God’s direction is inspiring. I am so looking forward to the new book.

    It will be ten years for me in March. As I’m sure you know and experience, grief is not linear nor steady. It’s most usually, for me, at a low simmer, always on in the background but not overwhelming or debilitating. Some days it boils over and blasts itself all over. This year in particular has been more boiling, I think mostly because of the pandemic and the isolation/loneliness it has brought. Much of the normally difficult moments a normal year brings have been magnified. But like you said, I feel how I feel and there are many times when my heart is light. When the love of family and friends becomes a balm. When a good book provides escape. When a podcast causes me to laugh ( the alligator hunt anyone?). when God makes His presence and provision known. May your heart truly be light in these days. Thank you for sharing yourself with your readers and listeners. You are loved and appreciated.

  5. Well, the picture of you says a thousand words! HA!!!!! I love how you reveal your humanness and your inner thought processes. I love how you want to have a fantastic book that will change your readers lives, and I love your sweet spirit that only wants to do God’s will! I look forward to reading this new book of yours! And thanks for the reminder to slow down enough to feel my feelings in this season that can be filled with “hard”. It has been 5 years. five. Since my Drew left the planet. His thirtieth birthday was December 15th, and then there is Christmas without his bright shining smile walking in my door. And the viola lays silent instead of filling the room with beautiful Christmas music. And this worldwide plague prevents me from hugging and sharing a meal with the only son I have left. Oh God, how I need you now.

  6. I remember, and I understand the fear that if you stop, someonelse will to. But time heals, the world spins, and we keep breathing. May you find your quiet filled with Peace.

  7. Oh Tricia, how I love you, and this reflection. Thank you for taking small bites.

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