Delete key aftermath: post requests?

January 12, 2009 | 51 comments

One of the things that makes it easy for me to update this blog regularly is that I keep a file of post ideas in Outlook where I jot down thoughts for posts as they come to me throughout the day. That way when I have my daily free time during the kids’ naps, I can pull up my list and quickly find something that strikes me. I’d started a new one with topics that are really interesting and relevant to me right now a few months ago, and it had already grown to be a wealth of ideas and half-written posts and links I wanted to reference, probably adding up to two or three single-spaced pages if I’d printed it out.

And I just discovered that I accidentally deleted it. Like, permanently. Like, SHIFT+DEL answering yes to “ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO PERMANENTLY DELETE THIS ITEM BECAUSE YOU ARE SERIOUSLY NEVER SEEING IT AGAIN?” deleted it.

To say that I find this turn of events “frustrating” and “dispiriting” would be a bit of an understatement. Words like “irate” or “consumed by utter despair” would be getting closer. It might take me a couple days to mentally piece the list back together because every time I go to think about what was on it I end up banging my head on my keyboard and wailing, “How could I have been so stupid?!” instead.

So. Anyone have any post requests? I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to address all of them, but I’m certainly open to hearing ideas for things to write about right now.


  1. AlaneM

    Oh I'm so sorry…I've done something similar before & it's so frustrating!!

  2. Anonymous


    As a veteran writer, I can say, don’t sweat it. Don’t try to recreate the list you had, just start a new file and start over. Ideas will come to you. Promise. As we say in the business, ideas are a dime a dozen. Keeping a file for your ideas is a really good practice, but not so much because it’s a resource, but becaue it provides practice in idea generation. A lot of writers I know write down all of their ideas on scraps of paper, throw them in a drawer, then never look at them again.

    Here’s a suggestion, have a good brainstorming session, and come up with *new* blogging ideas. The good ones from before will reappear, plus a lot that are probably better than some you were planning.

  3. The Sojourner

    Write about scorpions.

  4. Jane @ What About Mom?

    Suddenly my “system” of jotting notes down on whichever piece of paper happens to be handy doesn’t seem so bad. If only I could consolidate it all.

    But I agree with “veteran writer.” I make all these notes, and lists, and blog plans, and then when I sit down to write, the post that needs to be written, the story that has to be told, my say that I have to have — that’s what comes out, no matter what else I’ve been thinking of. Often something that I’d dismissed awhile ago.

    I love just about everything you write, so I’m not worried, but I am working right now on my resolution of “no yelling.” How do you apply your Christian principles in the moments of utter kid-mischief?

  5. Anonymous


    I hope you have success in recovering your files. As Marissa pointed out above, there are ways to retrieve deleted files. As long as you haven’t reformatted your hard drive it should be there somewhere!!

    I would like to see an article regarding answers to prayer, and the importance that the Catholic church places on prayer (in particular the rosary). God doesn’t always answer prayers immediately or in expected ways, but it would be interesting to hear your experience since you confessed to being pretty bad at “freeform” prayer. (I am too!) Apologies if you’ve already covered this topic and I missed it.

    Best wishes,

    Jen G

  6. Christine

    Jen, I would love to hear a story about your kids. Maybe that’s not the reason behind your blog or I’ve just missed the posts, but I’d love to hear a story or 2. If you choose not to write about them on purpose, I’d love to know why.

  7. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Marissa – Thanks so much for those programs! I’ll check them out but my initial research shows that since it was a file within Microsoft Outlook it is most likely unrecoverable. Ugh!

    Thanks for all the comments!

  8. Anonymous

    Everything happens for a reason. Since you may not be able to get them back try detachment. You have nothing left to lose, let them go. This is annoying advice I’m sure but it may save you from beating yourself up even more.

  9. Margaret in Minnesota

    No suggestions, Sweetie, just sympathy! Trust the Holy Spirit, as I know you always do, and those ideas will start coming back to you in no time.

    Meanwhile, praise God for this passive purification! πŸ˜‰

  10. TL.

    write about how you met your husband. πŸ™‚ about love (not only feelings, also sacrifice and overcoming difficulties).

    you can also write about letting go… πŸ˜‰
    this whole delete thing may end up a lot more inspiring than your pre-planned list.
    Happy surprises πŸ™‚

  11. Maria

    We had an older pastor friend that told the story of how his briefcase was stolen. In it were all of his sermon notes. Another older man, a good friend of his said, “Good, now you’re going to have to hear from God.”

    Just a thought. All of your great ideas came from Him and there are a lot more ideas where those came from! You have my permission (as if you need it!) to quit beating yourself up.

  12. Jasmine

    I am so sorry to hear that. I can see myself doing the same thing.

    Take a deep breath. You can re-try a topic of one of those half-written posts, and you may turn out a lot happier with it the second time around. That’s been my experience, at least.

    As for post ideas, maybe you’ve written about this and I haven’t seen it, but what about evangelism?

  13. Faith

    Oh dear! I’m sorry that happened :S

    As a newly pregnant and nervous Christian person, I would like to hear how you trusted God with the possibility of miscarriages or other things going wrong!

  14. papermoon

    write about break ups! maybe.
    although i am not sure about how many of your readers are as young and break-up-ish as i am.

    once, i deleted ALL MY MUSIC and ALL MY PHOTOS permanently.
    that sucked.

  15. Marian

    I’m sorry. Really.

    Maybe– who knows?– God’s saying, “OK, now look at me and listen! Girl, do I have some REALLY good stuff for you!”

    Still, I’m sorry. ; )

  16. beckygiggles

    I giggled when I saw the comment that said “Write about scorpions.” I’d love to say the same, but I know I should ask you to delve into something spiritual. All the same I LOVE a good scorpion post.

  17. Mrs.KAOS

    Wow Jen, I’m sorry. I’ve been writing for over 10 years, and do most of my idea generation and outline writing on paper; I have lost fully written pieces do to computer failure.

    I am new to your blog, and you may have already written about this; but I would love to read about your daily life in prayer and in relation to God. Do you go to church every day, or is it just bedtime prayer.
    Thank you

  18. KimP

    One of God’s lessons that I have to learn over and over again is that whenever I lose thing, I end up with something even better replacing it. You might find that your new ideas are even better than the ones you wrote down! I hold onto to things (and people) so tightly that I can’t see that if I just let go, my life would actually be better, freer, and more open to God’s plan.

    Topic ideas: I’d love to read more about vocations – discerning our vocations, and what if we still don’t know our vocations, or what if the vocation we thought we were called to just didn’t pan out.

    Also, I love to see a post or two about how to know if someone is right for you; that is, how do you know that the guy you are so ga-ga over is the right man for marriage. Anyway to tell? How did you know?

  19. Tess

    I’m a fairly new reader of your blog. I’ve not read much yet from your archive – only a little about your conversion. Have you written about transformation? How things are different now, whether easier or more difficult? You came to faith believing that it was not compatible with reason, and yet reason brought you here. I always think those are the remarkable stories, and am enjoying the chance to see a little of the life following the ‘and she lived happily ever after’. How do you stay spiritually awake, when your days must be very busy? How do you manage to keep God a priority?

  20. Kelly @ Love Well

    You know what I’d like to hear? How you manage to write so consistently and intelligently (it’s almost like you’re thinking) with three young kids in the house. What happens when nap time goes awry? Do you have back-up plans?

    This is really pertinent for me, as I’ve been thinking a lot lately (thanks to your blog) about my first priority in life being a mother and wife. I struggle with finding time to write when the kids are always HERE right now.

  21. Dustmite

    does outlook archive your email? If so, check out your archive file in outlook, it might still be in there.

  22. Jane

    Jen please write about how your conversion has inspired others to come into the Catholic church or at least question their unbelief

    Consider penning your most embarrassing momment.

    How about the person that most impacted your life.

    How are you tightening your belt in this economy.

    How do you view death now as opposed to when you were atheistic? Did you think about death then? Were you afraid? How has that changed.

    What was or is the most difficult thing to get used being a Catholic? Something that cradle Catholics take for granted.

    What are you doing for Lent this year?

    HAve you or anyone been on a great retreat this year? Does anyone know or a great place to go on retreat?

    Just some ideas. Sorry about your loss.

  23. Teresa

    I do love you YaYa stories but honestly Jennifer “it’s all good”. I come here everyday and always take away something…a laugh or something to ponder for my own spiritual growth.

  24. Tres Angelas

    Well, let’s see… I just cast vote #822 for Conversion Diary in the Weblog Awards — that was fun. (Hey, it was more satisfying than voting for John McCain.)

    Today’s the last day.

  25. Em the luddite

    As a Protestant pondering a conversion to Catholicism, who spent the summer in Ireland watching some nasty relations between the churches, I’m interested stories of your conversion (in general, but especially as they relate to particularly Catholic issues). Maybe I’m especially interested in what was hard for you, or still is.

  26. Melanie B

    Oh no! I know how bummed I am when I delete a partly written post or email. To lose a whole bunch of them at once would be heartbreaking.

    I’ll ask my mom, the computer guru, if she knows of any possible recovery options.

  27. Anonymous

    Scorpions. Your little friends. Or both COMBINED!

  28. Jasmine

    Jane, I think those are great ideas. I second all of those suggestions.

  29. Hope T.

    Some of the above posters mentioned the topic of “letting go”. I would like to hear about that in relation to having to let go of the “ideas” about opurselves that we had when we were younger:the kind of mother we thought we would be to our children, the kind of marriage we would have, the friendships we would maintain, the way we would interact with our extended family, etc. I think that as we get older, the selfishness of our plans and dreams in those areas become clearer and yet the process of giving up those dreams is a very painful sacrifice. I feel like I am not being clear but I hope you get the gist of what I mean.

  30. a square peg

    though i know how frustrating that can be, i agree with the first anonymous. new ideas will come–in fact, they already are! you could do a post about how little everyday losses cause you to examine your faith and how through them god nudges you to let go…

  31. Tres Angelas

    This morning I passed a black BMW X3 with vanity tags which read, “GO YAYA.”

    I am not making this up!

  32. annabenedetti

    Have no fear!

    I had so many Catholic blogs bookmarked that I could no longer manage them.

    Rather than go through one by one and decide which to keep, I ruthlessly (and recklessly) deleted the whole monster list.

    In starting anew, it was through happy chance that I came across your blog for the first time a few weeks ago, and I am enjoying it so much! God bless you!

    Razing my favorites down to the ground has allowed the green growth of blogs I’ve never read before to show through the scorched stubble, and it is all for the good.

    Let the fresh growth of new ideas spring forth; they now have the sunlight they need to sprout thick and fast. It’s obvious that your fertile mind will lose no time. πŸ™‚

  33. Abigail

    I’m saying some prayers for you! You’ve got my whole offering up of “we are out of food so I need to take 3 grouchy, sick kids to the grocery store trip today.”

  34. Anonymous

    Dear Jen,

    Sorry to hear this happened to you. I’m also relatively new to your blog (a hat tip to my wife for introducing it to me). I think both your story and your blog are fantastic. My wife and I are cradle Catholics; we never left the Church, but our faith and practice was probably luke warm at best for a number of years. Mary has called both of us back to the Church in the past year. Reading your blog has been enlightening, as it touches a lot of topics and things that we may be going through as we rediscover our faith.

    I would be interested in a post related to spiritual directors. I think I’ve seen you mention having a spiritual director. I am starting to search for one, and would be curious how you went about finding one, what what you were looking for in one, what they actually do (I’m sure different ones have different approaches), etc.

    I’m sure you’ll come up with more topics than you could have imagined.

    God Bless.

  35. Anonymous

    God must know you can recreate it better. Once when son was in 5th grade he complained that his teacher kept him during recess to rewrite a paper and how unfair it was would I talk to her. I had to tell I already had and she had my permission because she (his teacher) KNEW he could do better. he simply needed to put more of himself into it and not thumb nail it. In his defense, he had mirror image reversal with letters and his “Safe mechanism” was to thumb nail his work. It isn’t fun to be laughed at. His papers were better and he grew to adulthood. He has a real give back attitude towards life. I mean volunteer and service. You can do it and better! I have faith in you.

  36. Josephene

    Losing a record of thoughts and ideas feels like losing a historical record of one’s own self. And maybe that’s the hardest part of the loss: you feel like you’ve lost a record of your personal make-up which you can’t possibly re-make because it’s all…past!

    Your new ideas will be built on the shoulders of the old ones! even if you don’t get them back verbatim.

    I hope you’re ok.

  37. Tara Sz.

    Hey Jen –

    Scorpions are always good; I admit that Sojourner made me giggle as well.

    Would also like to hear, as someone who struggles with a consistent prayerlife, an update on your wreckless experiment with prayer, and how are the little friends doing?

  38. Jim

    Write about trust, faith.
    Its so hard to wait for God.
    I kissed Mary’s picture on my wall and I wanted a sign and then I thought, “no sign! that would scare me.”

  39. Tausign

    I take it this means that you don’t back up your files to another media. Oh, you should take this as a warning. Last summer I lost everything when my hard drive crashed…very painful. Now I back up all files that aren’t program installed…just in case.

  40. Rachel

    I’d like to know if you get tired of talking about “atheism” and all that’s included in that topic?

    Do you feel like that part of your identity clouds over what your are now?

    Thanks for your time. Have a son filled day!

  41. Amber

    Well, not exactly a deep thought request here, but something I’ve been wanting to ask you.

    When you pray the hours, what do you do about the hymn? Do you have resource(s) for hearing them so you have some idea how they are supposed to sound? Do you just fake it? Do you have musical training so that you can read the music? Or do you just read it and ignore the music directions?

    It is something I’ve struggled with – right now I let my 6 yo sing most of the hymns (we pray the morning office together when we don’t go to Mass) and while the renditions are rather, um, tuneless, they are at least heartfelt!

  42. Lauren

    I just wanted to mention that I’ve started reading your archives- partly because I’ve been toying with the idea of starting my own blog and I wondered what the beginning of a blog might look like… Anyway, what I gained from reading all those posts is how different your authorial voice seems now. The huge changes that God has wrought in your life are really apparent even through your words… and I really get a sense that God’s grace is working in your writing, that he is using you to fulfill his plan to bring more souls closer to him. Anyway, why not look at an old post, your previous thoughts about a particular topic, and share how your perspective has changed? For example, I saw a number of posts where you were wondering why Catholics dress so casually for church- as a jeans-wearing Catholic myself, I wonder what your thoughts are about that now.

  43. Kelly the Kitchen Kop

    I’m hyperventilating for you right as we speak………

  44. 'Becca

    How frustrating!!! But I think this may well be a lesson about detachment. I have lost lists of various types before and found myself simultaneously thanking God for my excellent memory and thinking of exciting new ideas that hadn’t been on the list. Also, my post that has drawn the most thanks from strangers is one that I suddenly decided to write on a day when I’d meant to write about something else.

    Topics I’d like to see:

    You said fear is failure to trust. Later, you said fear is failure to love. Which is it? Both? Are they kind of the same thing?

    I’d like to hear more about your kids, particularly as other than a source of work and distraction from your writing. What have you learned from them? A while back, you were seeking advice on children’s religious instruction; have you tried anything new that worked out well?

    I’m puzzled by some Catholic beliefs which, as I understand them, don’t seem to go together:
    (a) This life is fallen and temporary; what really matters is eternal life.
    (b) When people die in a state of grace, they go to be with God and it’s really wonderful.
    (c) Death is horrible and evil and just about the worst thing that can ever happen to a person.

    What are your beliefs about environmental stewardship? (Does the word “stewardship” bug you, too, or am I flinching from it just because I don’t like stew?)

    How can parishes build a more vital community life?

    What charity/volunteer work do you do, and what experiences there have most shaped your spiritual growth?

  45. Lenetta

    I’ve been toying with something lately that I think you could cover well, if you feel so moved.

    Life is easier when we follow God’s plan for it.

    First, we must know God’s plans. This is where I look to the Church so often (and not often enough!). Then, we must choose to live the way HE wants, not how we want. Finally, it’s not EASY, just easier.

    I’ve applied this to so many things personally lately that I can’t even hardly list them. I’ve even pondered applying them to society as a whole and come up with much the same conclusions.

    Grace and blessings to you on this journey of life.

  46. foursure

    Several months ago Testosterhome had a post about the Marquette Method & Clear Blue Easy. Someone named "Jen" posted that she used that method for NFP. I thought I followed her link back here, and then about 1 month later you posted the news of your most recent pregnancy. Was it you? Did you use it? Do you have any comments on that method? (We are NFP'rs) Hope you don't mind me asking here… I've just always wondered.

  47. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    foursure –

    The tagline on the box reads: “Reduces the time it takes to conceive your baby.” Let’s just say we found that to be true. πŸ™‚

    If you’d like more details feel free to email me!

  48. Tiago Paolini

    I usually use draft posts on Blogger to keep track of my ideas for posts, so when I finally am going to finish and publish them, they are already there on Blogger. Maybe doing the same would prevent from accidentally deleting again a computer file with the posts πŸ˜‰

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