The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer fulfilled the “Book Written by a Musician (fiction or nonfiction)” for the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. Amanda Palmer is an indie musician and was once part of the band, The Dresden Dolls.
I am so very glad I read this.
In the book, Amanda Palmer describes her story, adventures, and life philosophy. She does not hold back, letting it all hang out. And she does a good percentage of it naked. She impresses me on a level I’ve never experienced before. I’ve read a few memoirs from celebs. See my Amy Schumer blog from earlier. Usually, I come away from these books amused and entertained. Ms. Palmer’s book helped me through an existential crisis.
So, I’m a writer. I write. I write books about romance, but I’ve explored other genres. The Wild Rose Press has published two of my novels, both romance. Recently, I have been working on a novella for a series other than my own. I wrote the story fast, so not surprisingly, it needed edits. By August, the edits became too much. The essential story was skewed far from where I had planned for it to go. I opted to stop the publishing process for the tiny novella right there. It wasn’t worth it to me to gouge a story until it was a shell of its former self. The press understood and gave me my rights back. End of story, right?
I was depressed. I had just come back from the National RWA conference ready to write, ready to move my career forward, and ready to try new and exciting things. And then I cancelled that contract. I felt like a failure. I have a great community of writers around me and many are widely published, killing it every day, multiple books, multiple contracts, indies with bite. And here I could not edit a simple novella to publish. My two books don’t sell well and I’m on the very bottom of the marketing learning curve. I was ready to quit, hands down.
Then I read Ms. Palmer’s book. And I experience a fundamental change in my thinking.
In the book, Ms. Palmer chronicles her art and music life, and many personal stories. In the end, everything spiraled back to the art, to the artist and their purpose in the world. She pointed out that art is necessary, fundamental, and should be celebrated. All art, not only the commercial, popular, or trendy. And something switched in my brain.
For years, I floundered over success. I was a stay-at-home mom for many years with a tiny part-time job. Then I started writing, full time, more or less. I was angry and agitated that I wasn’t finding the success in writing I could find in a business career. Well, duh. They aren’t the same thing.
Through Ms. Palmer’s brilliant telling, I realized that making art for art’s sake is a success. Publishing a book, much less two, was a huge success. I was sharing my art with the universe. The money is only the icing on the cake. There are no promotions, corner offices, or such things. Just sharing and art and good stuff. Plus, I’m sharing with the blog, putting my voice out there in the universe. Maybe no one is hearing, but I’m doing it.
Ms. Palmer’s message came through loud and clear. Make the art, connect with those who love your art, and then make more art. I feel like I finally get what it means to be a part of the writing community.
So you probably won’t learn much about Ms. Palmer’s book from my entry here. Just know, if you are an artist, love the arts, or have heard of the arts, this is a book for you. She opens herself wide and lets us in to see the deep meaning behind fan support (a two-way street), following your crazy dreams, and finding your community so you can keep making art.
I give The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer five large, white wedding dresses forever.