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It’s almost June—and almost time to take a mid-year look at those goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. It won’t be a pleasant look; I have, I think, accomplished virtually nothing on the list. It’s easy—too easy—to point to outside factors (no job, no money) as reasons for not getting anything done. They are really just excuses. The operative question (as Richard Nixon would say) is what I’m doing with what I have.

I have a habit of freezing up when confronted with disappointment, and that’s a dangerous tendency that needs to be controlled. Taken to its logical extreme—which I can do easily—I do nothing, because I’m accomplishing nothing. The flip side, of course, is I’m accomplishing nothing because I’m doing nothing. Hardly a recipe for success.

My solution—the same one I gave employees when I was a city manager—is a Work Program. Here is a list of things to do. We will do them without worrying in advance about the results. After they’re done, we will look at them, and decide what we can do better next time around. But not until after, okay?

First action in the Work Program (first because it’s simple) is to enter the Great Lakes Songwriting Contest. The Goals call for entering at least two contests each year; this will be one of them. The contest appears to be the effort of a local group (in Michigan), and winning includes getting to perform on stage—both pluses. Deadline’s not until September, but there’s a $3 discount if I enter before 31 May, and since I am waydam cheap and almost out of money, I will do that.

What to send them? “Bluebird on My Windshield,” I think; I consider it one of the best I’ve written, and it hasn’t been entered in a contest before. It’s under five minutes (these folks have a 5-minute rule, like a lot of contests), and I do have a recording I can send them that was done in a professional studio with a real band. (I would not send a home recording to a contest I wanted to win.)

A nice (for me) feature of this contest is I can disconnect entering and winning. The winners won’t be announced for a good six months, and by then I may have even forgotten I entered. If I win, it’ll be a nice surprise, and if I don’t, it won’t be anything to be discouraged about.

Is there another contest I might want to tackle this year? Right now, there isn’t an obvious one. No Hank Williams Festival this year (too bad—I wanted to send them “Hank’s Song”), and no Woody Guthrie contest, either (and I had a couple of good contenders for that one, too); both are apparently victims of the Depression. American Idol didn’t do a contest this year, either; reportedly AI’s new judge, who’s a songwriter, got it written into her contract that she, not someone else, would write the New Song to be performed by the winning contestant. (Critics, I guess, were not very impressed with the song she wrote.)

There won’t be a talent show at the Tillamook County Fair this year, either. The Fair Board, following their conviction that there is no such thing as local talent, decided there was no point in having any talent show. So Tillamook will be the only one of 36 counties that won’t be sending acts to perform at the Oregon State Fair. That does give me an excuse to enter talent shows in county fairs to the north, south and east; the State Fair’s rules allow it, but I don’t know if I want to take advantage of it.

The Rogue Community College “Star of Stars” contest in southern Oregon, which I entered last year, is attractive—and it was fun; however, I did learn from experience that it’s not one I have any chance of winning. The winner will be a student from the college, and the contest is intended to raise money to give that student a scholarship. It’s a great cause, and I’d help in a heartbeat if I either (1) had the money or (2) lived in the area. From 300-plus miles away, it costs a few hundred bucks in gas to be a part of it, and I don’t have it.

The other possibility for a contest this year may be the one put on by the Portland (OR) Songwriters Assn. Its deadline is in September. There’s a discount on the entry fee if you’re a member—and I’ve thought seriously for several years now about joining the organization as well as entering their contest. Portland is not a hotbed of country music—but southern Oregon wasn’t, either, before I moved there.

UPCOMING: Music Friday night at City Hall, Saturday at the Library (and someone may be there from the West Linn Library, where I’ve applied to be part of their local entertainment). Practice Sunday with the band, I think.

Joe

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