TO ASK WITHOUT SHAME…

I’ll be honest…I’m not an avid reader. In fact, I’m far from it. Whatever good intentions I’d have of starting to read a book would quickly dissipate and after the first chapter, maybe even pages, the book would fall by the wayside. Most of my reading was accomplished during my school years, but I’d try to avoid it as much as possible, even in college (which was a little more difficult to avoid). I envied my boyfriend who could read several books at a time. I envied a good friend of mine who read a collection of books within months. For whatever reason….I just wasn’t that….into….reading….books.

So, with the beginning of 2015 I decided to set a reading goal. It was a really modest goal that I’d try to accomplish over the course of one year, that is, to read THREE books. There’s always talk about when setting goals, make them actually attainable. Well, three books? Pfffft, yeah I could at least force myself to do that.

Well, I didn’t start my goal in earnest until July (talk about procrastination). I started with books about paranormal subject matter (a huge interest of mine) and some graphic novels and then some fun fictional stuff (one book called “No! I Don’t Want To Join a Book Club” by Virginia Ironside). It’s October now and I’m on my thirteenth book. Yeah– I surprised myself. I had to train myself to get into the habit of reading, even if it was 5 minutes at a time while I was boiling water or *ahem* using the restroom. I kept telling myself, “Read a page or two, but just do it.”

My thirteenth book just happens to be “The Art of Asking” by the amazingly talented Amanda Palmer. Most people probably know her as one half of The Dresden Dolls, which is how I was introduced to her back in the day. I’d known she’d written a book and it was just kinda in the back of my mind, until I finally remembered to look for it at my local library. There it was!

It’s been a really great, interesting and thought-provoking read– probably even more so because I’m also an artist. I love reading about her unpredictable couchsurfing lifestyle and what it was like for her during her “Eight Foot Bride” years. But what’s most intriguing is reading about her relationship with her fanbase, with the people who offer their couches, who bring her and her bandmates homemade food, who have supported her crowdsourcing efforts. It’s all amazing, but what’s made very clear is that it never would have happened if she’d never asked.

Amanda makes many valid points about the life of an artist, most prominently is the term “GET A JOB!” that seems to get tossed around a lot. Art is a job. I’d love for it to by my only job. Because of terms like this, artists can fall into a cycle of not feeling worthy, not important enough to just be an artist because somehow our job is not valid. Au contraire…

Asking is not begging and I think Amanda makes a clear distinction between the two in her book. It’s not necessarily about monetizing your art, but it is about putting a value on art. If it means something to someone, it’s valuable, it’s worthy of your asking. She also acknowledges that asking has this weird connotation of weakness and can make anyone feel vulnerable. On the other hand, no telling what kind of awesomeness can derive from asking for help. It makes the “net” tighter, which is an analogy Amanda uses throughout her book. I highly suggest that everybody picks up a copy of this book, but to my fellow artists, this book is a necessity.

Amanda’s TED Talk is still available on YouTube and her now infamous Kickstarter page is still online, if you’re curious about her triumphant crowdsourcing efforts.

Amanda, thanks for writing this book and reaffirming that we are all worthy of asking. ❤

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