“The Art of Asking” review and social experiments

photo from wikipedia

photo from wikipedia

The review

I am a HUGE Amanda Fucking Palmer fan. I adore this woman. She reminds me to stay weird no matter what. She reminds me to feel all the feelings and make all the mistakes and be out there and expose myself and my art. I loved her music way before she became significantly more famous thanks to her incredible TED talk. Go watch it before you continue reading this post.

Now that you ‘ve watched the talk, you can probably understand my excitement when I found out she got a book contract. When the book came out, I was actually too busy raising my toddler and trying to make art during her naps. These days it takes me approximately four months to finish a book and we are talking about fiction here, not particularly deep stuff. But finally the time came to get my hands on the audio book, which is read by Amanda herself. Oh the joy!

I spent ten nights listening to “The Art of Asking” while working on my latest project. It was so inspiring on so many levels. The highlights for me -and the things that I found most relevant with my own life- are:

  • talking about the difference of asking and begging
  • finding your tribe or rather letting your tribe find you by being honest and dedicated to your art
  • connecting with people honestly
  • staying honest with your fans even when things go wrong (a few hilarious crowdfunding stories in there)
  • learning not only to ask, but also take graciously
  • dealing with the fear of commitment
  • “take the donuts”

I feel that this book is a great read not only for creatives but for any human really. I should also add that it’s not only the messages of the book but also the literary quality that I found inspiring. The flow is great, jumping through space and time in a very smooth way that always makes sense.

If you are a multitasker and decide to go for the audio book like I did, you get as a bonus Amanda’s impersonations of Neil Gaiman, who happens to be her husband, and Anthony Martignetti, her very close friend and mentor. They both have published (tons of) books and their insight adds even more value to the book.

My own experiment

Amanda’s book is all about trusting people and so I did. Last weekend I took part in a pop-up market organized by Locally Yours. There I was selling my bilingual children’s books and it was great to meet so many bilingual or multilingual families. At some point and older lady approached and asked about my project. She told me that her Dutch daughter was married to a Greek and the kids learned Greek during the summer, but they were too old for my books. Still, she called her daughter to come over and take a look. They were both very encouraging and excited. The grandma decided to buy a gook and I asked her if it was for friends with younger kids. She said it was for her, which I found really sweet. Her daughter got jealous and decided to get one as well, but she had just given all her coins to her mom and they could not pay by card. So I told her she could have the book and pay by bank transfer once she got home. She couldn’t believe it. She thought I was joking and I had to tell her three times that it is ok to take the book and I trust her to make the payment. And she did. And she also wrote me a lovely e-mail thanking me for the trust. It felt so good to trust. I wish we did it more.

At the pop-up market

At the pop-up market

I am planning to continue this trust trip. A few days ago a girl sent me a message, that she would like to have my book about the different types of families. She told me though that she lives in a village in Greece and paypal and bank transfer are not an option, so how could she pay me? I told her that I would send her the book and she could just send me a bag of whatever herbs grow close to her village. She got so excited! She told me that her village has amazing oranges and olive oils and I explained that the cost to mail me all that stuff would mean that I would have to send her my entire stock. The way I see it, the point is not the exact cost. The point is that the artist feels that they get something of value in exchange for their art. The value could be monetary or not. It could be a heartfelt gesture of gratitude. Does gratitude pay the rent? No. But when a girl in the middle of nowhere in conservative Greece (I am Greek, I am allowed to say that) asks for a book that depicts gay, lesbian and communal families, it means she needs it really badly, most likely to feel accepted or to help open the eyes of those around her. Which brings us back to Amanda’s book. In order for the artists to be able to afford helping out people like that, other people have to help the artists to survive. Not in the form of charity, but by supporting their art.

So now that the holidays are approaching, first buy The Art of Asking for yourself. And they buy all the gifts for friends and family by independent artists and artisans. You will help make the world a better place.

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