I knew for weeks that my Entourage email database was getting sick. It was so massive (90,000 items), and I kept meaning to rebuild it (you’re supposed to rebuild this database once every few weeks; I was lucky if I did it once every two years—yeah, I know.) But one Thursday night, it hit that point of no return. The messages all started acting wonky, and I knew that I’d have to rebuild it in order to be able to use it. So I started the hour-long process and turned on the TV while I waited.

Only, it couldn’t be rebuilt. Over, and over, I got this terrible, mean message that said there wasn’t enough room.
Of course there was plenty of room. Room wasn’t the problem. Corruption was. I tried several more times that weekend, finally realizing (after doing some research) that it was corrupted, for good. As in, couldn’t be rebuilt. I tried all kinds of workarounds that I found online. But nothing worked. The database was safely backed up, just not accessible.

Let me tell you what, few things can strike panic in the heart like the fear of losing email. One of the kids screaming in the middle of the night, maybe. Or a car that suddenly stops short in front of you. But my email, ruined? No email? The last eight years of my life in well-organized email messages, just inaccessible?

It was a bad weekend.

But, after chatting with an Apple tech support person on Sunday (who very nicely helped me, even though my Apple Care warranty was long expired—thank you, random tech support guy!), I realized that all was not lost. I could export the folders, one at a time, into Mac Mail.

But—and this really is sort of poetic—because my database was so screwed up, I couldn’t actually open anything in Entourage. I couldn’t pick and chose individual messages, or delete anything. All I could do was to drag entire folders.

I’m going to be writing later about some of the changes I’m making in my business, but let’s just say, I’m in a period of purging a lot of crap and ridding myself of a lot of baggage to do with writing for magazines. There couldn’t have been a clearer message about letting go as I got ready to rebuild my email. What was I going to take with me? Did I need that folder of emails from XYZ magazine, chronicling the back and forth drama of the story that wouldn’t die, the check that I had to beg for, the arguments about kill fees that had nothing to do with my actual story and everything to do with the dysfunction at the magazine? Did I need those exchanges that only served to frustrate, humiliate, and infuriate me hanging around on my hard drive any longer?

No, I didn’t.

And what about the trash? Should I bring over the trash folder, all 5,000 items? Why in the world do we even keep trash? Isn’t it supposed to be, you know, trash? The trash folder is like one big wasteland of second-guessing, and I decided I didn’t need it.

And then there was the mother of them all: the folder so big that it probably single-handedly caused the crash to begin with: the sent items folder. All 11,391 sent messages, dating back to 2003. Everything I’d ever sent to anyone. What would it feel like to not have access to my written history? To the stupid things and brilliant things I emailed? What would it feel like to lose that thread? What would it feel like to just be out there in the world, without being able to go back over and over to what I’d written before? I decided that there was no better time to find out.

All in all, I imported about half of my folders—only the folders for the clients I truly wanted to work with. The first few weeks, it rattled me. But then I noticed that I started to feel lighter. I started to remember that I was allowed to make choices about who I wanted to work with. I started to believe that if I built the right thing, the right people would come.

 And I like that. I like that a lot.
3/20/2011 04:33:10 am


Sounds similar to the freedom of going commando!



Leave a Reply.