Amanda Palmer’s new book “The Art of Asking” is now available on Amazon. It seems she got caught up in the Amazon/Hachette brouhaha that’s been going around in publishing circles. For now, the publishers have declared themselves satisfied (according to this Times article).
The reason I chose this quote for Writing Quote Wednesday is that I recently watched Palmer’s TED talk (after finding out more about her from Ksenia Anske) and was thinking a lot about her ideas of “asking” people to support you as an artist. She says you can’t make people buy what you create. You have to ask them to.
You can watch the talk here:
If you don’t have the time to watch the video, she also mentions that when she was working as a “living statue” street performer people would sometimes drive by and yell, “Get a job!”
That “get a job” mentality that is heaped upon anyone who dares to make a living in the arts is so pervasive, so insidious in our culture, that we even say it to ourselves.
I find myself saying “get a job” as I sit down to create a world from nothing but my imagination and life experience. I’ll be working on my latest story and that little voice in my head keeps saying, “Get a job! What are you doing with your life?”
There is a guilt and shame that I feel sometimes when I am doing my own creative work. I think, “I’m not working for someone else, so it must not be of value. Get a job.” People don’t consider it a job, or they think that because I enjoy what I do that it is somehow less difficult than other forms of work. The amount of time it takes to create something new can be immense. You have to take the time to play and think and consider and fail and rebuild and learn and do. It might look like play to someone from the outside, but those of us who have done it know that it is a lot of hard work, too.
I find myself saying it when I’m in the middle of a performance and the audience is sitting on the edge of their seats and I can feel them listening to what I’m saying. I can feel the connection between us and then I start to worry if it will last. Suddenly, that voice again, “Who do you think you are? Get a job! This is too intimate. This is too risky. This is too…” fill in the BLANK. It takes me right out of the moment of creation and into the worry about survival. Where is the next job coming from? How will I survive?
I find myself saying it when the bills come due and the bank account is bleeding out. “Get a job,” that insistent voice says. Those people who love me most have said it over and over again. Not directly, but in hundreds of little ways they may not even be aware of. The strident tones of voice. The sideways glances. The looks on faces.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling brave, I answer the voice back. I say, “Quiet down, you. I have a job. I create for a living. I take nothing and make it into something. I am working for someone else – the people who want to hear my stories. My job is to be in collaboration with them. To ask, without shame, for people to share in this journey with me.”
That shuts him up for a little awhile.
It’s time to be brave again. I’m asking you now. Please support the Fiction Unboxed short story anthology “Beyond the Gate” by downloading it on Amazon. It’s FREE. (It’s also available on other major booksellers.) Then leave us a short review. We’d love to hear from you.
I’m also working on the novel length version of my story “My Strength Will Ease Your Sorrow” from that anthology. I ask that if you’d like to know when it’s available, please sign up for the email list.
If you feel inspired, please share your “get a job” and “asking for” stories in the comments section.
Thank you for all you do!
Here’s more Amanda Palmer to make your day brighter:
Also, please stop by Amanda’s Blog.