Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Amanda Palmer and the Art of Asking

You may know Amanda Palmer, for many different reasons - her TED talk, her music, her kickstarter, her marriage to Neil Gaiman - or you may not know her at all. Whether you know who she is or not, if you're a creator/artist/writer etc, you need this book.

Before I received Amanda's book for Christmas I knew Amanda in the sense that I followed her on Twitter, and knew a bit of her music (but not much), had followed her Kickstarter, loved Neil Gaiman, and she was just there. And then she started writing a book. When this book was released, I added it to my Christmas list, intrigued to see what Amanda had written.

Although I wanted to save this book for sometime after Christmas, I found myself starting -and devouring it - in two days. After a rough period pre Christmas, it left me feeling inspired and motivated again - and relieved that despite being completely different people, with different ambitions (like I'm not a performer at all), there was someone who understood, in some sort of way.

Amanda talks about the fraud police (something which I'm sure affects every writer I know), asking for help, doing what you love, and so much more. She writes,
When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it.
She further writes,
There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to art school, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.
She talks about taking things - "take the flower" and wanting things and working hard and how it has tot hurt enough to make you really want it: "it doesn't hurt enough yet". 

She writes,
There's really no honor in proving that you can carry the entire load on your own shoulders. And...it's lonely. 
She writes about art and creating:
Collecting the dots. Then connecting them. And then sharing the connections with those around you. This is how a creative human works. Collecting, connecting, sharing.
There are so many fantastic quotes in this book, it would be impossible to share them all here. This book was inspiring, reassuring, and motivating, as well as incredibly moving. It was beautifully written and I loved the way that Amanda shared such personal stories, and anecdotes. I never write in books, but I was scribbling in this one, underlining things, and circling things. This is going to be a book that I carry around, that I refer back to when I need to.

Amanda reminds us that it's okay to ask, even if that's the hardest thing to do.

And that I think is an important lesson for us all. 

Take the flower.

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