Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

As I listened to Amanda Palmer read the audiobook of The Art of Asking, I knew that I would also want to read it. The audiobook includes her music, and she is a wonderful reader/artist. This is one of those rare instances where I want to experience both. Because when I read it, I have time to think about, and make note of her many insights. And she IS insightful.

I spent my late teens and my twenties juggling dozens of jobs, but I mostly worked as a living statue: a street performer standing in the middle of the sidewalk dressed as a white-faced bride... Being a statue was a job in which I embodied the pure, physical manifestation of asking: I spent five years perched motionless on a milk crate with a hat at my feet, waiting for passersby to drop in a dollar in exchange for a moment of human connection.

Artists connect the dots - we don't need to interpret the lines between them. We just draw them and then present our connections to the world as a gift, to be taken or left. This IS the artistic act, and it's done every day by many people who don't even think to call themselves artists.

Then again, some people are crazy enough to think they can make a living at it.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 bull... 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.


There's a lot of love and life and art in this book. She writes about her relationship with Neil Gaiman. Listen to the audiobook if you can. But reading it has its advantages, too. You might look for her blog, her TED talk, and her band's music and videos on youtube (Dresden Dolls is the band.). This is an extraordinary book.


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