Last Tuesday morning I was working on my novel while eating breakfast. This isn't unusual. Morning is my best writing time and one of the few multi-tasks I can manage these days is chewing and typing.
Something must have happened, though, because somehow I managed to dribble milk from my cereal into my keyboard. (I picture myself leaning forward over the keyboard, mouth agape at some bit of internet insanity that popped up in response to a research term.) It wasn't much liquid, maybe two or three drops. I blotted it up with a Kleenex and kept on working.
Except, a few minutes later, when I tried to type the word "deeper," Spellchecker popped up. And kept popping up. I could type "dee," but as soon as I hit the "p," Spellchecker would announce that "dee" isn't a word.
By then I'd completely forgotten the cereal incident, so I wasted twenty minutes Googling for viruses that make Spellchecker open uninvited. It turns out that's a thing with Word 2010, but I'm still on 2007. (Don't roll your eyes--Nora Roberts is still using WordPerfect.)
While I was Googling, I discovered that if I typed 2007, what appeared in the search box was '20f0f7a'.
I opened a blank document and typed out the alphabet in lower and then upper case. 'P' was the only letter with a problem, but the numbers and special characters clustered around it exhibited strange behaviors.
Finally, frustrated, I shut down my machine and went on in to work, figuring it would dry out during the day and I'd be back in business by the time I got home.
And then while I was at work, I got one of those emails unpublished writers dream about: "Can you send me the full?"
You bet! I waited impatiently for quitting time, then rushed home and got right on it.
Hitting reply and attaching the manuscript went fine, but when I tried to compose a response I ran into problems. I wanted something simple, but friendly and professional sounding. "Manuscript is attached. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it."
Wrong, because those two sentences contain 2 p's, which I couldn't get my keyboard to type. I finally copied and pasted them from an existing document, then changed the font to match.
Also, a lot of other characters now sported entourages. The space bar added a trailing "2', The 'h' had a dash and a right parenthesis following it around like love-struck groupies.. And my delete key had deleted itself, so I had to position my cursor after any problem content and use the backspace key to get rid of it.
I finally got the email sent out, so now I'm waiting to see what ha... I'm waiting to see what her res... I'm waiting to see if she likes it.
"P"—it's more important than you think.