It was a normal day, October of 2019…
I went to retrieve my manuscript from my desktop, the little word .doc icon had become a permanent fixture over the last year- but it wasn’t there. It wasn’t anywhere. I couldn’t breathe. Did I just lose my book? Have you ever had a moment that was so clearly defining in your life?
I scoured my computer, every file. From my Google Drive to Dropbox and every electronic device in my home, external hard drive and USB. Nothing. I had a firm disbelief of what was happening. I unplugged my computer, packed up my laptop and drove them to a data retrieval expert. The unenthusiastic man behind the counter asked me a few questions, took my computers and told me they would call me in a few days.
I cried. A lot.
I paced around the house. I wracked my brain trying to think what I did wrong. Trying to think why my new computer with tons of storage had not stored this massive, important document.
It was a week before my book was due to my publisher. Every publisher works differently – mine, Victory Belt Publishing, has us turn in the manuscript and the images via a cloud when we have it all.
60,000 words. My manuscript was nearly done, at 60,000 words. Hundreds of pages, 140 recipes, all of the front matter. It was done. I was just rounding out my recipes chapters and adding final touches to the front matter (the information before the recipes). A task that took me nearly two years to complete.
Three days went by. Three excruciating days. I just kept telling myself that it was going to be okay. I had to believe it. There was no alternative.
Then the phone rang. The same unenthusiastic man told me that the files they found were corrupted. My computer had defaulted to saving everything to the apple cloud instead of the hard drive and somehow – they are corrupted – unusable. There was nothing there but a few lines of code.
All of my work my 60,000 words reduced to a few lines of code.
As I drove to pick up my computers I could not stop crying. Pulling over several times, falling into a heap on the ground. Heaving, soul-crushing cries. I felt as if someone had reached into my soul and pulled it right out. When I finally reached the store front, I sat in my car waiting for the eternal flood to pause. I dried my face and walked in to retrieve my desktop and laptop.
The unenthusiastic man looked sad for me. I can’t imagine what my face looked like.
I drove home in a silent trance. I connected my computer. I cried some more. Then it happened. Justin asked me what I was going to do. Without hesitation I replied – I’m going to re-write it. In that moment I knew there was no other option.
With every cell in my body, every fiber of my being I was utterly certain that I would write this book (for a second time). I went to school for this book, I studied for 9 months, took several workshops, hours of research. Endless days in the kitchen cooking, testing, photographing. I didn’t fully understand what happened to my files, all I knew is that they were gone and that I had a book to write and a week to do it.
It’s hard to explain the switch- but just like that – in an instant- I felt a resolve like I had never felt before. All of a sudden, I didn’t focus on what was missing but what I did have.
I had the images of all of my recipes still.
I had my hand-written kitchen notes.
I had all of the nutrition information and ingredient amounts in Cronometer.
I had all of the medical journals, texts and NCBI articles I used for research.
I had my grit.
As I began to rebuild something magical happened… I felt a razor-sharp clarity in my message. I made bolder statements. I felt the confidence to drop the dietary labels in the book, something I had wanted to do, but didn’t in the first draft. I was able to find clarity in my messaging that I could not find before. I scrutinized my recipes, looking at the method and ingredient lists, refining the techniques. I asked for help. I rallied my friends and colleagues to test recipes for me. I hired a fellow NTP to help me sift through all of the articles and texts I compiled to find the information I needed.
The days melted into the nights. My body ached from the long days sitting at my desk. The nights were sleepless. There were days where my face collapsed into my hands with exhaustion so deep and so old I didn’t know how I was still upright. I remember thinking, I better tell Oprah this story one day. There was an unwavering passion for the work, and understanding that its important, that it’s what my readers have been asking for, what they need. When you know just how important your work is, you just do it. You have to. There is no try, there is only do (hat tip: Yoda).
And then, among the mess of papers, empty coffee cups and crumpled up notes on my desk, between the essential oils and textbooks, my little keyboard going tap tap tap… a few keystrokes came to pass and just like that… 64,235 words.
What I didn’t know is that the trying times were just beginning.
During edits, they cut pages out to save space. Pages full of words, my blood, sweat, and tears.
There are always so many questions. An inquisition. There was a lot of back and forth and this time was just so much harder than my first. To the last detail, from the graphics, the endorsements, the foreward, the photographs I worked tirelessly to create this book with unwavering certainty that it was important work. That is a needed resource in this world.
Then I announced it. The excitement of my community was there. After all, my first book was and still is so beloved. Made Whole was (still is) dripping with my love and it was apparent to all who have it! However, as months went by the preorder marketing efforts weren’t paying off. I kept thinking, it’s the social media algorithm, it’s the crappy engagement, people will get it when the book comes out. I’m just one interview, one opportunity away from being able to share this book with everyone.
Book launch came, March 10th, and went and then the world caught fire. You can plan for a lot of things, but not a global pandemic. I had to cancel my book tour, my media appearances, and with that I felt tried again. This time I didn’t have the fight in me. Watching my book tank in sales was excruciating. It broke my heart into pieces. I wondered if people doubted me. Did they doubt that I would produce a second book that exceeded my first?
I have a lot of feelings that I haven’t fully worked out about that. Because you know, there is the unexpected and there is what is expected and sometimes you can’t reconcile. However, the certainty that my work, that my approach to nutrition and simple yet nourishing recipes are needed in the world did not change. My pride in my work did not diminish. So we gave it away.
I bypassed any royalties I would get from the digital book and my publisher did a flash sale. $2.99 for the kindle version for 24 hours and for the first time since I announced the book, it hit 3 best seller categories on Amazon (Gluten-Free, Allergy Cooking, and Nutrition). Even if briefly, having my book ranked #129 among all books on Amazon, tells me that people have it now, and that gave me peace.
Perhaps one day, when the world is a calmer place and book stores are flooded with people again and the grocery stores stocked to the brim, the print version of Made Simple will have its day in the sun. The big, beautiful book is a work of art. With bright images for each recipe and hand-drawn graphics. Made Simple, like Made Whole is dripping with my love, I don’t know how to create any other way.
What I learned through this entire process is that when you do something you truly love, and you do it well and you do it with integrity- and it’s hard and you don’t give up… that doesn’t ensure success. That feels a little like finding out Santa isn’t real. However, when you believe in what you do and you’re passionate about it you keep going.
So I’m back in the kitchen, back to creating and I’m mending my heart through what I love to do best <3 Find your spark and fight like hell for it.