Remember how I said I’d finish my novel over Christmas break? Well, Christmas break is here — but unfortunately, my novel isn’t. Here’s a word of adivce: Make sure that whatever you think is backing up your files actually is backing them up. That way, if your computer crashes unexpectedly and the hard drive is lost, you won’t have lost all your files.
It happened on Monday, and I spent the night feverishly hoping that somehow the hard drive could be saved. After consulting the local computer store Tuesday morning, the hard truth hit me that no, it couldn’t. My NaNo book is gone. My NaNo book from last year is gone. The sequel to that book is gone. My poetry, my short stories, all the other books I started — all are, well, I don’t know exactly where, but certainly not on my computer anymore.
The thing about writing is that you can’t really replace it. Sure, I can remember the plot line, but even I if rewrite it, it won’t be quite the same. The way I expressed something originally, the exact words I chose to paint the scene — none of that can be regained. For another thing, it’s not exactly easy to rewrite. It took a month of writing far more than I usually do to get as far as I did in my NaNo novel, and the thought of trying to repeat the feat is exhausting. Not only did I lose thousands upon thousands of words, I lost hours upon hours of work.
Perhaps the worst part of losing writing is how much I put it into it. I’m not talking about effort or time, though that’s true as well. When I write, when anyone writes, they’re weaving part of their souls into their works. You can’t truly separate the writer from his work. When I lost all that stuff, it felt like I lost a part of myself.
But then, as I sat on my bed Tuesday night, thinking it over, I realized something. Three things, rather. The first thing is that my words aren’t mine. My health, computer, family, opportunities, even my ideas and imagination—none of it’s mine. It’s His. The words I write are HIs words—I’m just borrowing them for a while. He has every right to take them back whenever He wants, and instead of complaining that He took them away, I should be thankful that I ever had them.
Which leads me to my second realization. When it first happened, I asked God why. Not just “Why did You do it?” but “Why did You take it all?” Couldn’t it have been a few files? Or even everything but my NaNo novel? Why did I have to lose it all? But then I realized that I didn’t lose everything. In fact, God left me with the most important thing—the ability to write. Which would be worse—to lose my files but be able to keep writing or to have everything I’ve written but never be able to write again? Once again I should be so thankful.
And lastly … On Tuesday night, I felt numb. I had absolutely no desire to write. “That’s it,” I thought. “I’m done. Writing is over me. I’ll try photography or something.” The thought of rewriting everything or even of starting a new book was so daunting. I couldn’t imagine all the work it would take for me to bring my repertoire back to what it used to be. I didn’t want to write ever again. But the next day I felt this weird itch, and all of a sudden I was sitting down writing a poem, and I realized that I can never stop. This is what He’s created me to do—to write, to weave words. I am a writer, and strangely enough, this loss of my writing only reinforced this truth.
To be honest, I’d rather have my novel back than have learned these lessons. I didn’t write this to sound like I’ve got it figured out, like I’m some noble martyr or pious person who will gladly face any trial. I’m still upset about it all. But writing out the lessons will help me learn them, and maybe they’ll help somebody out there who’s undergone something similar.
Have a wonderful Christmas break!