One of seven

Friday, January 20

Dear Patronopolis,

I’m disappointed in myself. When I started the Patronopolis last April, I had intended to talk directly to you more often. Share more. Plumb the depths with you. Process the process.

Perhaps you had no expectations at all. Perhaps you would rather I take my processy-self elsewhere, or just keep it in my journal. You may have heard more than enough from me, thank you very much.

But this is a relationship, so, argh, I have to state my needs, awkward as that is. And one of them is to be…well…less alone in the process of making art, or trying to. Yes, I need money and support and feedback and all of that. But I also just need some damn company. I spend a lot of time in my head, and it can get crazy in there. So I started the Patronopolis partly as a virtual watercooler, a lunch room, a hallway where we could pass each other, chit chat, and then go on our merry (or sometimes not-so-merry) ways to the rest of our lives, loves, and work.

Why haven’t I done more of this…whatever it is that I’m wanting? I think it’s primarily about time. I want to do this, but I haven’t prioritized it. I keep thinking I’ll get to it. I keep waiting to have enough time.

It’s 2012. We’re half-way through the first Year of the Patronopolis. There’s not going to be enough time unless I decide to make the time. So. Here’s my plan.

For the next seven weeks, I’m going to spend 40 minutes every Friday just talking to you. Telling you about my week. Work-wise, that is. What I tried to do. Where I got stuck. What I’m afraid of. What I’m feeling proud of. Just, what’s up with my projects, like I intended to do, way back in June.

Why seven weeks? Because that’s enough time for both of us to decide if we like it or not. I’m going to poll you at the end to see if you want me to continue or not. (If you can hang with me until then, I’d appreciate it.) The fact that seven weeks is also the amount of time left in my campaign to raise $25,000 to support Reserve & Green has absolutely nothing to do with the timing. Nothing at all. I’m serious. You don’t believe me? Jeez!

And why 40 minutes? I don’t know. Because it’s how much time I happen to have right now to start the experiment. Because it has a nice old testament ring to it. Because it’s enough time to stay something substantive but not so much that I’ll ramble on forever, or be able to get too precious or perfectionist about it.

I set the timer on the stove before I sat down. Twenty-three minutes left. Here we go.

Marilyn, David and June

The week started out great. Patronopolis Super Members Marilyn Marler, David Schmetterling, Ethel MacDonald, Rebecca Sills and Bryony Schwan threw a fundraiser/party on Sunday night, which raised over $1,500 for Reserve & Green, and left me feeling buoyed creatively and practically. Cellist Bethany Joyce, and actor/singers Rosie Cerquone and Emi Kodama performed at the party, and as always, left me in awe of the talent living inside my friends and collaborators. It’s an amazing thing to stand a foot away from a person you love, a person you’ve shared all sorts of stories and laughter and emotional bonding with, and see her just open herself up and rock it.

So I woke up Monday morning jonesing to get to the studio. Really, I couldn’t get there fast enough. I’m not sure I brushed my teeth before I left the house (I have a toothbrush up there to help me out on days like this.) And there it was, my little creative nest, another Patronopolis donation (thank you Joan Burnett!) and ahhh… felt so good to sit down and look at the script and remind myself of the music and get re-oriented. I’ve worked on the show a bit since the workshop a month ago, but not as much as I wanted to. I opened my computer and - weee! - photos from Wolf Pack, my middle school rock band program, popped up to greet me. Loved those kids! Loved that week with them! The dialogue in my head kicks in, “oh, have to send those pictures to parents, have to blog about how amazing this experience was…." etc., but no. Not right now. This is my time with the musical.

It’s like a date. And if you keep a date waiting too often, he eventually gives up on you. So, good-bye for now, Wolf Pack, and…hello Reserve & Green.


Hey, I like you!

That was Monday. Part of Tuesday, too. But I could feel the fear billowing in around the margins. What if I can’t do this? What if this sucks? What if…

Deep breath.

I can do this. I am doing this. I am 100% committed. It’s not a question of whether or not I’m climbing the mountain. I’m climbing the damn mountain.


Wednesday was good. Rich. Hard in moments. But good. I’ve listened to a ton of feedback about the show. Heard a zillion ideas. But on Wednesday I could feel myself shifting from that super-receptive place into the driver’s seat again. Just go. Just write. Yes. Just keep saying yes.

I’ve written, um, maybe 5 songs for every one that’s in the show. It’s occurring to me right now that maybe this is just how I work. I work by working. Meaning, things don’t exist in my head first, and then get written. I sort of hear it, see it, feel it. But really, I don’t know what I’m dealing with until I write it. I have to commit to it, sing it, read it, before I know if I like it or not. Before I know if it’s real, and right. And a lot of times it isn’t, until I do it several times.

Five minutes left on the clock!

I remember when I first started writing songs, what a relief it was, to have this external check on my writing. I’d always loved to write, but when I started writing songs I realized I had this magic tool in my toolbox, which was that songs exist to be sung. And singing, for me, is such a great bullshit detector. If I’m singing something, and it feels phony or pretentious or just wrong somehow, I can feel it. I need to remember that as I work on this musical, and try not to beat myself up for the intense drafting and re-drafting that I do. I think I need that process to sort out the wheat from the chaff. I have to embody it to some degree before I know what it is, or where I want to go with it.

Two minutes. Better stop, so I can make sure all my little links are set up right. Just in case you want to participate in the slogan contest. Or watch some videos of the rehearsal process. Or see the latest tally on the fundraising campaign.


Thanks, dear Patronopolis members! I’m so grateful for you!

See you next week,


I’m trying to raise $25,000 before February 29 to support the completion of my first musical, Reserve & Green. Donations can be made in less than 5 minutes at my website. Thanks for helping to spread the word!