I got up this morning with the intention of writing some writerly post about how stories are driven by questions and demonstrating by pointing you to Written by a Kid (which you should still totally open in a new tab and visit when you’re done reading this) and telling you the story about a magical kitty call Mrow-ow-ow that I forced John to make up for me when I was both overtired and unable to sleep the other night, but…
My morning turned out to be much more dramatic than all that, so I’ll tell you that story instead, because the other things that drives stories are random shit (i.e., the grown-up word for “bad things”) happening and the quest for personal efficacy.
The drama began quietly when I woke up before the alarm, not awake enough for my danger sense to be prickling, but awake enough to get up and seize the day. I poured myself a glass of water, picked up my couch-snuggle cat, and wandered over to my “office” to work on that story for you. After puttering aimlessly around the internet for a while, I arrived at my blog login screen and
ERROR ESTABLISHING A DATABASE CONNECTION
attacked me! With a very large, scary font. In terror, I fled from the back-end login screen to the front end, hoping that the nightmare would be chased away in the public space, but no. The scary error message stalked me there too. Trying not to panic, I ran as fast as I could over to Google (the internet equivalent of a police box) in search of aid. The best response I got was an article from the kind folks at wpbeginner.com, who are now officially my internet best friends (not that they’re aware of that fact) for giving me hope that I could handle the problem.
Their first piece of advice was to check the WP-config file. That sounded scary and hard and requiring of access from my FTP client, which has a nasty habit of scrolling a lot of technical gobbledygook at me before telling me it won’t let me in to edit my site. It has a point, actually, because I am fairly likely to screw something up in an all-but-unfixable way without knowing it, but still…isn’t it my site to mess up if I try to fix something I don’t know how to fix? All the same, I sighed and opened the client anyway. It did no good. I was right. It refused to let me in.
The next piece of advice was to check my hosting service, in case they were down. I had to wake John up to get his log-in credentials, since he handles the hosting for both of our sites, but it was useless. John’s site was up, and according to the host, all was quiet on the website front. The domain and hosting service had not expired, and I wasn’t quite sure that I had exhausted enough possibilities to hunt down (i.e., wait in a phone queue to speak to) a tech support person.
The “solutions that worked for others” all required access to my site that I just didn’t have, so I started hunting around more and even forced myself to dip my toes into the cold, murky waters of the helpful-but-frighteningly-technical WordPress Codex. As I concluded that there wasn’t a recent post that addressed the complete lack of access to my site that I faced…the phone rang. It wasn’t a magical superhero calling to walk me through the fix of this minor catastrophe, just my mom, and I discovered that it’s not really possible to plan a birthday party over the phone while trying to figure out if you have a WordPress.org account or if you need to register…so WordPress.org now thinks I’m an idiot.
Actually, that’s a fair assumption when it comes to this sort of thing. Words I can work with. Code and files and ftp clients? Not so much.
When I finally cleared the massive hurdles of stupidity keeping me from logging into WordPress.org, I stopped myself as I was just starting to draft a cry for help. The internet hates me, you understand, so I had a niggling suspicion that the minute I hit “send” on my forum post, my website would pop back up to wiggle its tongue and fingers at me while all of the savvy folks at WP rolled their eyes at another n00b who was floundering in the deep end.
For the record: that’s a completely unfair representation of the smart folks who work with WP. I mean, they might privately roll their eyes, but in public they are the most patient people you’ll ever meet. As a whole, they are completely dedicated to making good web design accessible to everyone and have a talent for breaking tech speak down into digestible pieces. I just hate being in a place where I know just enough about the technical side of web design to make a complete ass of myself in front of such supportive people whose tech-respect I crave in a “yeah, I’m never going to grok this like a coder” way.
Long story short, I decided to check my site one more time before posting to the forum, and what do you know? It was up again. I mean, obviously, because I’m posting something now. Unfortunately, I have ruled out the possibility that too-heavy traffic crashed the site: 10 readers in a morning isn’t a stat to take a blog down. That probably means that my site has either been hacked or is slowly dying from some kind of code-cancer, but you know what? I will attempt to face that issue another day. For today, I’m going to let myself feel proud of my own agency in trying to solve the problem instead of first running to my bosses who work with websites for a living or my husband who is somewhere between me and the boss-ladies.
One victory at a time.