Amanda Palmer --- musician, artist, connector of dots, blogger, tweeter, writer, philosopher, speaker, wife, friend, and most importantly human --- really pulls back the curtain in this book, to show us what she does behind the scenes to make the final product (what we see when we buy her music, her book, or live concert) happen, and it's pretty awesome, in my humble opinion.
She says that we ALL can ask for help from everyone, and in the age of the internet we're meeting more people in a week, than we'd met in a lifetime, before. She says it's all about putting yourself out there, trusting that you will get what you need, and being open to receiving the blessings. It's about shouting down from your open Windows (both literally, and figuratively in the form of blog, twitter, Instagram, etc) and inviting people in.
It sounds easy, but for me, it's really hard. I didn't grow up in a family that asked for things. So, this is a grand challenge for me. However, I feel if I keep working on it a little bit at a time, it will become a habit, one that will hopefully change my life for the better. However, she says: 'there's no trust without risk, and there's always new trolls that will try to squat under the new bridge you are building; but if you never try, you'll never get anywhere, and that's scarier than anything.' I tend to agree.
So, my personal challenge will be to open up my Windows; open up my throat and heart, be empathetic, be authentically vulnerable, and ask for the things I need ---from myself, from my lover, from my friends, from my family, from my neighbors, from strangers --- and being open to the blessings in whatever form they may take, knowing that the asking is unconditional, no strings attached, and the person being asked is welcomed to say no, but just might say yes.
As I'm writing this, a song has popped into my head: 'What's looooove?..It's about us, it's about trust.' It's about tightening the net in some ways, and letting it out in others. It's about using your own set of gifts to make the world better. I'm excited to try, in order to see what happens :)
Thank you Amanda Palmer for writing this book, for being your own beautifilled self, for putting it out there and inviting us all in, to give it a try.
---Taken from the book, but originally sourced from Theater Is Evil (2012)---
This pretty much sums up how I've been feeling lately. Thank you Amanda for putting feelings into words like these because it makes me realize that I am human after all, just trying to figure things out, like everyone else.
Amanda Palmer isn't everyone's cup of tea. She's brash, she's creative and she's not ashamed to let the world know it.
Amanda takes us on her journey, as an artist, from her beginnings as a human statue, through her stripping career, through to her highly successful Kickstarter, and her woes of allowing her own hubby, one Neil Gaiman, to help her with her struggles.
As an artist, asking is something I too struggle with, I await the 'fraud police' to visit any time I think about showing some work. Why would anyone want to buy my work, or support my art, when there are so many other, far more talented artists out there.
Amanda's approach isn't really about asking, it's about connecting. Seeing and being seen. How often do we really see those around us? How often do we connect?
I came across some very fitting videos from a group called The Liberators earlier today, before I finished reading this book. But sitting, watching their videos, showed the connection Amanda was talking about. The simple act of eye contact left so many people open and vulnerable, they were being seen by someone, not just looked at. Tears were shed, hugs were had, and those people had a whole new level of understanding about themselves and the strangers they shared that minute with.
This same group did another similar act, one member stripping to her underwear in London, blindfolded herself, and asked strangers to draw hearts on her in an effort to encourage self acceptance. A powerful gesture of trust and understanding.
Amanda's struggles with making ends meet, her own battles with her own inner 'fraud police'. I now have a completely new perspective on street performers, they're s much more than someone standing, singing, playing, they are art, they're asking you to see them, not just as someone who needs to 'get a job', but as an artist in their own right. Recognise that they are working, they're offering a service, it's just not flipping burgers or filing papers.
So the next time you're wondering why that busker wont go and get a job, rewind and ask yourself if you're enjoying their performance, if you find that you are, toss them a few bucks, you never know, they may be the next Amanda Palmer.
As a long time fan, who enjoyed Amanda's book writing as much as her quirky song writing, I gave the Art of Asking 5 stars.
Hit up amandapalmer.net/theartofasking for more on the book and her music.
I just wanted to add some thoughts on the topic of Anthony. At the time of my reading this book, Anthony had sadly passed along, mere weeks before. The pictures of Amanda by his bedside during his last days really show the depth of love and care the two shared. It makes me sad that he wont be around to share the joy of baby Palmer/Gaiman's arrival, and worse that the joy will also be full of sadness for Amanda and Neil.
I went into this book only knowing that Amanda Palmer is the lead singer of The Dresden Dolls, a band my husband likes and the 2 times I've heard them have given me a headache, and that she's married to Neil Gaiman, an author my husband loves and I've never read but stood in line for a signing with said husband for 8 hours. I only knew that they were married because the lady behind us was reading this book and it started a conversation.
That's a very weird way to go into a memoir, but it was fascinating. Amanda Palmer has a way of taking someone who was totally outside of her group and bringing them in. As I listened to this book I felt a connection to this woman and her work. Which is what this book talks a lot about, human connections. While the book talks about the kickstarter, it takes the main question of 'should an artist ask for crowd funding?' back to the basics of her busking, and the way we ask people for things all the time. And more interestingly (to me) about Palmer's life as it relates back to asking. It was fascinating and amazing.
I listened to this book, and it's read by Palmer which added to the connected feeling. I cared about the things she cared about. It's features a lot of her music and I found that I really enjoyed it. I'm curious about her work. I want to listen to her more and support her as an artist. I liked this book so much I finished it in one go, on audiobook, so 11 and a half hours, and I didn't even speed it up, clearly I really liked it.
I want to say more but I'm dead tired and literally everything I'm trying to say is coming out as mush. I only gave it a 4.5 instead of 5 because sometimes the organization/time line of things felt a little messy. It all came together but (maybe because I listened to the audiobook) it just felt like it needed a clear timeline at points.
Also as a side note Palmer's "fraud police" talk really resonated with me as I'm currently battling that issue, and any time someone else is acknowledges that they also deal with that issue I feel less crazy.