Monday, January 26, 2009

Dear Dolly

You'll remember last week: Brad Horvath - my single remaining "live" connection to Dolly Parton, my last hope of getting her approval and participation on my project - had kind of gone M.I.A. after he offered to hook me up with his link to Dolly. 

"Please don't let this be a dead end", I kept chanting through the days and weeks of not hearing back from Brad. "Please don't let this person be a flake."  The fact that I really don't like to hassle people for favours probably compounded the turnaround time though, because after one or two polite and well-spaced "reminder" emails to Brad, I just waited.  

Until I couldn't wait anymore. One day I picked up the phone and left a timid message on his voice mail. Shazam! - five minutes later I had the email he'd promised me! From then on, everything moved like lightning. By the end of the day, I was actually looking at the name, address and phone number of THE person who could see to it that Dolly Parton would see my project!! 

Hyperventilating, I wrote Brad and thanked him deliriously.  He advised me to get a really kick-ass package out as soon as possible. And he also mentioned I should include a fax number where I could be reached, as that was how he'd usually received business correspondence from Ms. Parton.

Simultaneously giddy and nauseous, I went right to work on the various elements of my proposal package - resisting the temptation to look at the script for fear I'd start to rewrite everything from scratch!

I'd decided the following Monday would be the day I'd send out the package. Barbara would be back from a film festival in Belgium by then and I'd have the weekend to clear my head and compose the last element that needed to go into the proposal - my personal letter to Dolly Parton.

But first, I wanted to phone this magical person who was about to receive my unsolicited package. I wanted to at least introduce myself - make a personal connection to the person who was so personally connected to Dolly.  I wanted to be more than just another FedEx envelope landing on a busy desk.

So, I waited until everyone left the house and I closed myself in my office. But wait. I couldn't make such a critical phone call in such a messy office - it would probably screw up my aura or karma or something. So I cleaned my office (first time since I moved in). But then, I was too dirty. After a thorough shower, I came back into my office, did some deep breathing and picked up the phone. Wait. Maybe I better do some positive visualization first. 

Holding my beat-up copy of Dolly's autobiography in one hand and the photo of my Grandma Kehl receiving her "Hole-in-one" trophy from football hero, George Reed, in the other, I "visualized" the hell out of my upcoming phone call. I got all the way to being invited over for a business lunch at Dolly's house when I decided I was ready to do this thing.

Maybe I should have a drink first.  Just to relax. 

It being 10:15 am, that idea could only end badly. So, reluctantly sober, I picked up the phone again and dialed the number of Dolly's right-hand person. WAIT!

I threw down the phone. What if someone answers? I'd forgotten everything I wanted to say. Clearly, I couldn't be trusted to wing such an important call. I needed a script. And for every foreseeable eventuality - like if the person answered, or if the person didn't answer, voice mail or secretary ... I had to have something written down for them all...

By 3 pm I was finally ready. I dialed the number, lined up my various scripts in front of me and prayed for voice mail to pick up.  But no such luck.  She answered.

I started off okay and managed to stumble woodenly through the appropriate script for the occasion, finishing up with, "So I was wondering if you would be willing to receive my proposal package?". When she cautiously asked me what exactly the film was about, I read her my short synopsis. And she paused.  And then slowly she said, "Well, I guess it would be alright. Go ahead and send it to me."  Just like that.

I hung up. And I cried. 

I was finally, FINALLY, within spitting distance of my goal. 

Now, only time and personal tastes could stand in my way.  

I sat down and wrote my letter to Dolly.