Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world’s most successful music Kickstarter.
Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn’t alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING.
Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.
I’m currently in a battle with my sister. She is 36 and had her first child last year. She is a superhero. She works full time, raises my beautiful one year old niece with her fiancé and she run a household. My sister can do it all.
She finds it really difficult to ask for help. She doesn’t necessarily need it but there are times when she is run down because of all the work she does and my niece needs full time attention (as a one year old is want to do) and I wish that sometimes she would let me help more.
Why am I telling you this, you ask? Well, I have just finished Amanda Palmer’s wonderful book The Art of Asking and I feel really light. The Art of Asking was recommended by friends and various booktubers and I decided that it was time to give it a read (it had been sitting on my NetGalley bookshelf for a while, oops) but when I picked it up I was just amazed and humbled by Palmer’s stories. I will admit that I knew very little about Amanda Palmer. In fact, my knowledge boiled down to two pieces of information: 1) She is a musician and she is in the Dresden Dolls and 2) She is marries to Neil Gaiman. Now, I kinda wish that Amanda Palmer was my best friend, mentor and guru. She just knows stuff.
The Art of Asking came off the back of Palmers TED talk when she talked about her days as a street artist an how that ethos has transferred to her crowd sourcing the funding for her subsequent albums and how that evolved into serious media backlash and how she dealt with it. Amanda Palmer learned that through her connections with her fans that the negative thoughts of certain pockets of people don’t matter, it is the connection that matters. People want to help. People will offer you a couch to sleep on, money to fund a project, a hug when you need one, a donut. People want to do that. Palmer believes that people are inherently good. I left this book feeling warmed by this dogmatic understanding of basic human nature. Amanda Palmer, she just gets it.
You may ask why I started this review talking about my sister, my best friend. It is because the next time I see her I am going to adamantly tell her to take the f*cking donut!
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer is available now.
Follow Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) via Twitter.