Tag Archives: music

Book Review: The Art of Asking

theartofasking_imageHappy Interweb rabbit trails brought me to Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.  Palmer is a performer, musician, blogger, crowd funder and –how she crossed my path — wife to author Neil Gaiman.  Shallow, I know, but that’s kind of the only introduction I needed.

I’m glad I caved to my shallow fan-girling, because Palmer rocks.  She gets it. If you’re seeking truth talking and unveiling and creating art in a busy life and creating real connections in this bizarre Interwebby world, Palmer has much fantastic stuff to say that is worthy of pause to hear.  The Art of Asking is an expansion of her TED Talk from 2013, when she describes a series of incidents – starting with her post-college gig as a living statue to the controversial act of crowd sourcing her albums – that led her to the epiphany of transforming the act of asking from a mindset of guilty begging to the realization that asking is a fair exchange of money for goods – goods that can include music or performance, but in reality, deep at its core, for connection and help.  Artists need to realize that their art is a valuable commodity that fills a void in the audience or consumer and becomes the bridge across which people connect.

“My music career has been trying to encounter people on the Internet in the way I could [as a living statue] on the box…I think when we really see each other, we want to help each other. I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question which is  how do we make people pay for your music. What if we started asking, How do we let people pay for music?”

Palmer’s words really resonated with me.  It reminded me of a camping trip we went on a few years ago with my brother and his family, during which my sister-in-law provided all of the food and then asked for reimbursement (which would have been much less awkward if these arrangements had been made prior to the trip, but she had declined my help when I had initially asked, so there’s one Ask) so I remembered thinking that the only thing my husband and I had contributed was entertainment.  Music and stories around a campfire…oh, and laughs. Lots of laughs.  This was a stressful trip (granted, the stress was unneccessarily fabricated IMHO because my SIL could have asked for help with everything) and we provided much needed relief. But we didn’t ask for reimbursement for that because when you witness the connection happening you’re realizing the payment is in joy.  That’s valuable. So there’s the second “Ask”.

I think a lot about “The Ask” because I work in a library. I have several circles of influence where I perform The Ask that includes various boards, volunteers, and staff but ultimately my local taxpayers and in order to do The Ask (for help, for funds) I need to believe in the value of the library and our services and I do, so The Ask really has become more of an invitation rather than a hand out.  (imaginary high five with Palmer!) Secondarily, I think a lot about The Ask because I’m a writer.  While I’m not asking for funding just yet, I am asking for time and that’s just as valuable a commodity at this point. Sometimes it’s asking myself for time and sometimes it’s asking my family for quiet space, but it’s still a need to see value in creating, in an intangible or unconventional commodity.  An artist developing a value of their own art is crucial to be confident enough in the art to share it with the world.

Read more about Amanda Palmer on her blog.


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Week 3 Pep Talk: Showing Up

This post originally appeared as a NaNoWriMo 2015 Pep Talk sent to participants in the NH Region. I will be sharing my NaNoWriMo 2015 Pep Talks and Pep Talks by Guest Wrimos on this blog throughout November. – Yvette

A success delayed doesn’t have to mean a success denied – not if you keep working hard and keep showing up and you have a willingness to learn from your mistakes… Success in life comes to those who keep showing up – with the attitude for “showing up.” So often, “showing up, is growing up.” And that becomes the final key to success….And that means showing up thinking like a champion not just when it’s easy to do so – but when it’s particularly challenging. Perseverance is part of “acting like a champion.” Going off the diet-strategy you need to follow to reach your goal – from Friday night till Monday morning – THAT’s your threshold for thinking and acting like a champion? Then you will fail to meet your goal. That is the truth. Champions don’t make excuses; they make champion-like choices – Coach Scott Abel


Welcome to Week 3, Wrimos.  I had this nice tidy pep talk all ready for you, on the topic of “showing up”…and then I checked in to Facebook Friday night and saw the news about Paris.  I know you have too.  Suddenly my nice tidy pep talk didn’t seem appropriate anymore.  Because, I mean…why bother?

To be honest, Wrimos,  I’ve been in a funk about NaNoWriMo 2015.  I know some of you are feeling this way, too.  For me, it’s partly because there are so many demands on my time at work that go beyond 40 hours. If it were just time that might not be so bad, I could stay up later or get up earlier and work on my novel, but since I work with people, inevitably there’s drama, and that’s emotionally exhausting to deal with, which doesn’t leave me much reserve to pull from to feed my creativity.  I didn’t have time to do the kind of prep I wanted to in October, so I’m catching up on my prep now and am trying to figure out what this story is about.  Unfortunately, home isn’t much of a refuge…I can normally ignore plenty of housework during NaNoWriMo, but my son needs driving hours and my husband teaches several nights a week…This weekend, our halfway point, three out of our four kids are sick – the youngest with a fever,  her brother with some stomach bug and our oldest daughter at school texted me that she’s got food poisoning.

And the world outside is absolutely going mad.  Paris. Japan. Syria.  I think attacks on people going to the movies or a music concert or out at dinner are particularly jarring because that could have been any one of us, enjoying the talents of others.  And then the uproar over Starbucks cups??  Was this even the same week?

There are times when life gets so stressful that I want to hide under the covers or in a movie or a book or a video game.  I don’t have the energy or reserves or quiet in my own head to create.  My mind is too full of worry…why do any of this…where does my pathetic, half-baked idea of a story have a chance at anything in a world that’s exploding around my ears?  I’m struggling to hold it together in my own little circle of influence and meanwhile….

I’m going to cut to the chase here, Wrimos, because I’ve been following #NaNoWordSprints today trying to catch up…There is a reason why we should bother.  Many of us in NaNoLand repeat a favorite Batyism (saying of NaNo founder Chris Baty), “The World Needs Your Novel.”  And it’s true Wrimo, it’s never been more true, and here’s why: Resilience.

books escapeBecause human beings are resilient.  I read an article today about people in Paris lining up to donate blood to help the injured.  Each one of us was created with this unexplainable desire to make sense out of chaos.  Maybe it’s hope, maybe it’s reason.  Maybe it’s foolishness.  It’s why so many of us return to the manic schedule of NaNoWriMo and throw a bunch of words on the page to see what will happen.  I believe we are created in the Image of a Creator and that is why we make stuff. (I’ll add a caveat that some people turn this creative drive to create chaos, to destroy…but I’m not going to give that idea any more airtime)  We make stuff, beautiful stuff.  Music, stories, beautiful gardens, delicious food, art.  Amazingly soft knitted scarves.  A simple child’s drawing. We make connections and we make love and we make something out of nothing.  Artists – you and me and every other nutty Wrimo tapping away at a computer tonight –  are chasing after a Life question that we need to unravel, a wrong we need to make right, a memory we need to preserve.  We are building our favorite fantasy worlds.  We are writing horror or romance or sci-fi to push these Big Life Questions to their limits until their boundaries burst and the Answer showers down over us.

The world needs your novel, Wrimo, to help find the Answer to What if? to Why? to Why Not?  I need your novel to curl up with under the blankets when my grubby little life and pressures crowd around too tightly.  I need your novel so I can escape and hide and heal.

And here’s why I’m sprinting today, Wrimo: You need mine.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite stage plays…Our Town by Thornton Wilder.  If you’re not familiar with the play, it takes place in a small town, and a young woman, Emily, dies in childbirth, but is given a chance to revisit her past for one day.  The Stage Manager cautions her to not pick an important day, but a simple day, which will be important enough.  She does, but moving through the day, re-living it, she becomes frustrated as she watched her family and friends around her moving through the routines of the day, taking everything – EVERYTHING – for granted.  Not realizing that their time on earth is limited.  Finally, she begs the Stage Manager to stop it – and return her to the graveyard, where she can be quieted.

“EMILY: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”

STAGE MANAGER: “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”

Dear Wrimo.  “Saints and poets.”  And artists, musicians, dancers, chefs, scientists, peacemakers, lovers…From the dedicated case worker to the guy who fixes my car…let’s continue to create order and beauty from chaos.  Those of us who see beyond the veil…our acts of creativity chase away fear, bring healing and joy and laughter, shine a light on darkness, crack open truth.

Now go write.





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Writing Prompt Wednesday: Song Lyrics

So which is it…?lyrics

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Writing Prompt Wednesday: Caption This


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August 19, 2015 · 8:05 am