When your novel is scattered across the road

Literally. Because I just spent the last hour scouring the road for pages of my novel (they’d been scattered across the road after I set my manuscript on top of my car’s roof and drove away). What is more, this happened in Lynn Haven. I live on the beach–thirty minutes away. I drove all the way home, got the kids settled for bed, put on my pajamas, and was getting ready to watch basketball and play a game when I felt like something was off. Something was missing. I couldn’t figure out what. I began walking mindlessly around the house, until I remembered what it was–my manuscript, bound in a blue three-ring binder.

Crap!

“Kids!” I shouted to them upstairs. “We gotta go back into town. My novel is missing.”

How do you lose your novel? Well, in my case … spectacularly. We drove thirty minutes back into town only to find pages scattered all over the place, blowing in the wind, or stuck to the asphalt with tire marks marring the once crisp paper. My heart plummeted to my stomach when I saw the sight.

Now, I must say I didn’t lose my novel. The manuscript is backed up digitally across multiple storage systems. But I had printed the entire work to make edits and mark-ups. It’s one of my most critical editing stages. During the process, I make corrections, identify clunky sections, rephrase sentences, and add notes which help make the story more fun and suspenseful. Basically, if I couldn’t recover the novel I’d lose over a month’s worth of work–and all my creative input to boot.

While my children waited in the car, I turned on my bright headlights and waded into the street, ankle-deep grass, and a deep ten-foot ditch to recover my pages. I scraped my feet on thorns (I was still wearing my pajamas and flip flops), and I hiked the street searching for my missing binder. A couple of neighborhood folks saw me, and they came out with heavy duty flashlights to help me look. How awesome are people?! Talk about good Samaritans.

Sadly, we didn’t recover my binder. The stack of papers I recovered felt like about half of what the novel should’ve been. One of the good Samaritan’s mentioned he saw someone picking up papers about twenty minutes before I’d arrived. Bummer.

Yet there is good news. My children helped me sort through the “run over” paperwork when we got home. I determined I’d only edited 96 of the 220 pages. Of the 96 pages, I only lost 17. So not all of my work went down the road. My hope is that I’ll be able to recall my ideas and critiques when I look over those 17 pages. Things could’ve been worse. After all, I was chasing manuscript pages as wind blew them from my grasp. I nearly lost them. Which means my novel came very close to needing its title changed from Maddie Jones & the Curse of the Terracotta Warriors to Gone with the Wind.

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