• Jill Jepson
  • [BREAKFAST WITH THE MUSE] When Things Go Wrong, Don't Go With Them: How I Survived My Website Crisis
[BREAKFAST WITH THE MUSE] When Things Go Wrong, Don't Go With Them: How I Survived My Website Crisis
Contributor
Written by
Jill Jepson
May 2016
Contributor
Written by
Jill Jepson
May 2016


Last week, I had a website crisis. 

If you have to have a crisis, a website crisis is far from the worst. It wasn’t a national crisis, or a health crisis, or a family crisis. Still, it felt big—catastrophic, even—and sent me dangerously close to a yawning chasm of panic.

As I was making changes on my website, I realized that I wasn’t getting many of the messages sent to me through my contact form. They were stuck at an old email address instead of being forwarded to the one I use. Since others were going through fine, I had no reason to suspect a problem until I stumbled across a huge number of unforwarded emails.

When I say “huge number,” I mean it. Sitting in my never-viewed email account were 2,734 messages dating back to 2013, unread and unanswered.

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This discovery hit me on many levels. I work very, very hard on my author’s platform. I see myself as a courteous person who responds to anyone who reaches out to me. I take my responsibilities as a writer, coach, editor, and teacher seriously. This was more than a small gaffe.

Included in the unanswered emails were messages from people who’d wanted to sign up for my courses, to receive my Strategies for Writers, to be coached or have work edited. Many sent me lovely messages about how much my book meant to them. Some reached out for help. I’m lost, one wrote. I am desperate. 

As a veteran self-blamer, my first thought was, How could I let this happen? But I quickly kicked those feelings to the curb. If I was going to clean this mess up, I had to have a clear head.  What happened happened. Now, what could I do about it? 

I applied a technical fix to prevent the problem from reoccurring. Then I decided to respond to as many of the unanswered emails as I could, no matter how old they were. Fortunately, I discovered that a good number were spam (and, no, I never imagined I would preface the phrase “a good number were spam” with the word “fortunately.”) That still left hundreds. I started with the oldest and answered every single one personally. 

Afterwards, I felt good. I had a crisis, and I handled it. Like every good crisis, it offered some worthwhile lessons:  

1. No matter how well you plan, crap still happens. This is a lesson I just keep relearning, yet it always comes as a surprise. 

2. I can keep myself from panicking if I set my mind to it. There was no crying, no snapping at my husband, no ranting about what a jerk the Internet is. A minimal number of swear words were used. I kept amazingly calm. 

3. I can still pull an all-nighter. It’s been years since I worked twenty-four hours straight. I didn’t think I had it in me, but once I started on those emails I wanted to finish, and I didn’t stop until I had.  

4. People are amazingly understanding when you admit a mistake. No one emailed me back to say, WTF? You answer me two years later? Instead, I got many kind responses from people happy to hear from me. 

Of course, the whole mess was a metaphor for life. You think things are going fine. Then out of the blue a meteor falls on your car, your house gets infested with poltergeists, or you get caught in a sharknado. It is amazing how suddenly and completely things can go awry. Things much worse than email glitches can turn your world upside down and shake it till everything falls out. 

You can let it ruin your day or your life, or you can roll up your sleeves. This time, I chose not to take to my bed for a week, but to get to work.

What sharknadoes have hit your world in recent years? How have you handled them? What lessons big and small did they offer?  

Hi! I'm Jill Jepson, author of Writing as a Sacred Path. Get my free ebooklet, Calling Up the Writer Within: A Short Guide to Writing at 50 & Beyond.


Photo Credit: Aldegonde Le Compte | Dreamstime.com 

 

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Comments
  • Jill Jepson

    Thank you, Bella!

  • I enjoyed this very much, Jill. You are one wise woman!

  • Jill Jepson

    To be honest, I surprised myself, Nancy.

  • Jill Jepson

    You are so right about the rant part, Mardith. My usual modus operandi involves a lot of ranting, swearing, and shaking my fist at the sky in righteous indignation. I hope to apply this rant-free approach more in the future. (And I never realized how weird a word "forewent" is until you pointed it out. It is funny indeed!)

     

  • An admirable recovery, Jill! Not sure I could have handled it as well as you did.

  • Mardith Louisell

    I especially liked that you forewent (what a funny word!) the rant, not to mention the snapping.  Just takes so much energy away from what needs to be done (from one who rants and snaps way too much). Probably why you could pull an all-nighter!