December 8, 2010


Not too proud. No, sir (ma’am?).

I kind of love reading my horoscope but I only do it when I am home, because my parents get the local Athens newspaper and it’s just so easy to flip open to the crossword puzzle, fill in a few lines before my dad gets to it, and then— “Oh, look. My horoscope is RIGHT there. Let’s just see what it says.”

It’s pretty fitting then that yesterday, in the middle of a week in which I have been devoting a lot of my time to writing letters asking for companies to sponsor this trip, the Cancer forecast said, “Don’t be too proud to ask for help, if you believe something significant can be achieved with the assistance of competent allies. Just make sure there is something in it for them.”

Of course, it’s that last line that hangs me up. What IS in it for a sponsor to help me out? Warm, fuzzy feelings? Because I do have readership (thank you, THANK YOU to everyone) but it’s small, by bloggy standards. Very small. And something about telling Chevron or Apple that “this could be very good publicity for you, if the project takes off” rings hollow. As if they need more exposure.

And no, I will not go to BP. I’ll admit it: I did consider it. For like, two minutes. Okay, 30 seconds. And then I felt all gross and icky inside, as if I had just accepted a hug from a tyrannical, megalomanic powermonger. (If you have not listened to that episode of This American Life, I highly recommend it; it’s seriously one of the best ones I have ever heard.)

Naturally then, I have to make these potential sponsors believe in the project for them to see beyond the fact that right now, it’s small potatoes. And to do that, I have to believe in it myself. Which I do. Sort of. On a good day.

Let’s look at the positive: I have finished the first three months of this 12-month project. That means I am a quarter of the way through and actually, in a week (a week!) I will be four months in, with a third of it (a third!) behind me— which brings us to the negative: I should probably be a little more confident than I am. And my numbers are dropping. I looked at my website statistics this morning and since I started in August, the monthly figures have all gone down: from more than 5,000 page loads to just under 4,000; from almost 2,000 unique visitors to just under 1,500; from about 600 returning visitors to about 450; and from 1,300 first-time visitors to 1,000.

Something is missing; I know it is. And I know it is something to the effect of lacking readership, but of course, that begs the question: why are you lacking readership? And rather than assume it’s because no one knows who I am, or dwell on why that could be, I am trying instead to focus on what I can do to add more to the overall picture, so that more people will want to read. Do you see the distinction? Even I am having a hard time defining the nuance but it has something to do with being both proactive and constructive, and it think would be like, instead of looking at someone’s outfit and saying, “You need to go buy a new pair of shoes for that ensemble to work,” you would take the person to their closet and try to figure out what bottom better suits the top for the boots to match it all. That is: I am pretty sure I have whatever it is I need; it just fell off the hanger and it’s currently squeezed, in limbo and out of sight, between a huge wool sweater and a very conspicuous black & white striped shirt.

That is part of the reason that I am currently home. It’s a familiar and comfortable base (albeit one that is full of distractions from those who do not want me to work), where I can hopefully visit people who live within a two-hour radius, as well as take some time to read. You cannot be a writer, if you are not a reader, just as you cannot be an adventurer, if you do not know about all the explorers before your time. Right now, I need both sources of inspiration.

I am also using the time to go over notes that I took while on the road, because there has not always been time to transcribe things that I have taped or to make sense of scribbles that I have jotted down after visits, and in doing so, it is reminding me of things I had already forgotten happened, which is, in turn, giving me inspiration for things to look out for down the road— literally.

And then there are those sponsors I want to try to get, while I am parked. It’s not just about financial security, though; it’s about job security. I might not procure a single tank of gas or a single bean of coffee or a single morsel of dog kibble from a single corporate entity. But the one thing that I will come away with is a better idea of what I am doing and how well I am doing it. Writing sponsorship letters demands a skill set very much like the one you use for writing a cover letter for a job application: whether it’s you or your ideas you are selling, you have to know the product really well and you have to figure out what sets it apart from everything else on the market. I hope then to come out of this next month with a much better idea of where this project has been, where it is going and how it is doing.

My horoscope today said, “When dealing with someone who needs help, be up front with them and tell him/her the straight dope. If you fail to be honest and forthright, you’ll only gum up the works.” It’s kind of funny, really. Yesterday it told me to ask for help. Today it was how to help others— except when I read it, my first reaction was that it was a great reminder to be frank with yourself, in order to make any sort of self-improvement. And that’s where I am.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. hillary
    Dec 9 2010

    Whoa. That T.A.L. was CRAZY! Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Pep
    Dec 9 2010

    450 returning visitors plus 1000 first-time visitors already?? I did not imagine so big numbers. Congratulations!


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