Getting On With It, Somehow

The bed is warm, the room is cold.  There is no particular thing to be done outside the bed on any given day, except everything undone that has been that way for months or years.   It is a luxury and a sentence, staying under the covers where it’s warm since I am not running late, no matter what the clock says.  

Think, man, while you stay warm, there must be something you haven’t thought of that you can do out there.  The dream you’ve worked on for the last few years, and proved again and again is hearty enough to walk in the world, bring happiness and engagement to everyone it touches… well, if you don’t figure something out soon you’ll have to nail it into its tiny coffin.

When three queries are unanswered, and then five, when pitches fall silently into silence, your best shot at a short promo is deemed “almost good enough” by the people with the most media savvy, when the City and State agencies designed to help small businesses have no concrete help to give, don’t even return calls and emails, when the friend of a friend at a large nonprofit declines to forward your pitch to her educational director, as she promised, when the mentor you spoke to once shies away, overwhelmed by the immensity of the challenges your stalled, perfectly working program faces, you start to get a certain picture of your chances.   It is possible that a real winner would not be deterred by the cumulative weight of this, I suppose.  

Bad luck has played its part, the early death by cancer of one of the few people who really got the potential of the program, overpaid for it,  put it in three schools.   Our fees for the sessions at the last school, months after her death, never paid, her business went under, angry parents also ripped off when they brought their kids for the first day of summer camp and found the program gone.  No current workshop to sustain my spirits, the program’s viability.

Making a convincing, winning pitch, closing deals like a successful salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross, seems to be the only way this thing can be sustained.  Read a good book on the subject by a guy who set up a consulting agency to help people get it right the first time.  He teaches them to speak well, to the point, convincingly, and close the deal.  They do indeed have a discounted rate for non-profits, I learned yesterday when I finally called them at a friend’s urging.  One four hour session, the recommended dose, special price for not for profits:  $3,000.  

“What’s your budget?” the breezy receptionist asks when I seem to balk at the number.  “Maybe we can work with you.”  She later recommended that perhaps the budget two hour session would be helpful, only $1,500 at the discounted rate, and probably more than half as valuable as the full session.

There must be some kind of way out of here, as the song goes.  Working on a soundtrack the other night I pictured the five way headphone splitter, four kids and I sitting around the laptop with garageband open.   I’m getting them started.  Listening to the beat with a bass track open, I’d show them how to lay down a simple bass line, let one of the kids play it.  Add a piano track, pick one note in that key (we’d use A minor, the white keys), lay it in on or off the beat in a spare pattern over the bass, see how music is starting to suggest itself?  The next kid adds a touch, the fourth kid adds a drum, kid number one adds a sound effect.  Showing them the importance of really listening to the other parts, playing sparely and leaving space in the mix for other things to be heard.   There are many music making apps that let you create music tracks intuitively, no knowledge of music necessary, but showing them how to lay parts against each other, using actual notes, seems the better way to go.  A kid or two will discover she is a musician and begin to pursue it.  

I am day dreaming again, clearly, to keep from screaming at the frustration of the situation I have gently placed myself in by not knowing the first thing about business and marketing, and knowing much too much about fucking creativity for its own sake.  Meantime, it’s cold in here, I have to get into the shower and into a shirt and pants.



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