Monday 20 June 2016

12 Powerful Quotes from 'The Art of Asking'

Okay, I really need to tell you about The Art of Asking, because I'm pretty sure it's changed my life forever. 

I picked this up about a year ago after being recommended, and totally adoring, Amanda Palmer's TED Talk of the same name. In 14 minutes, she offered a beautiful and powerfully thought-provoking range of stories, thoughts and ideas of how artists and creators can navigate successfully in the digital age, and I was hooked, buying the book instantly. But only now have I managed to work through my mammoth reading list to get to it, and it feels like absolute serendipity at how well timed it seemed to be. 

In short, this book has blown my mind. 

I almost feel like Future Me sent it back in time for me to read at this EXACT moment in time, whilst I'm feeling creatively frustrated and unsure of how to move forward. Overall what I've taken away from The Art of Asking is a sense of permission. I can do it. And I can do it myself. I was struck dumb by the similarities in the way she spoke about her relationship with her fans, and the connection I feel with my readers. So much so that I went through with a pen and hastily underlined long, sprawling passages, annotating the margin with a frantic 'THAT IS LITERALLY ME'.

About halfway through I was struck with inspiration and came up with an idea for a writing project which has consumed my every waking moment since. It's ludicrously exciting, and I have set the deadline for my birthday - October 7th 2016. But I'm not going to do what I always do, and rush into announcing it. I'm going to sit on it, gently watering it like my proverbial bamboo, and wait patiently whilst working diligently for it to slowly come together. Just... watch this space *excited squeal* dear Lord, just watch this space.

 There's so much more than I can even begin to put down in a blog post about how this book inspired me, but here are some of my favourite quotes:

On pretty much my exact life situation right now:

"I was twenty-two, I'd just graduated from college, and I really, really didn't want to get a job. Don't get me wrong: I wasn't lazy. I wanted to work. But I had no desire to get a JOB job."

"The truth sounded too stupid. I wanted to be a Rock Star. Not a pop star. A ROCK STAR. An artistic one, a cool one. Like Prince. Like Janis Joplin. Like Patti Smith. Like the dudes in The Cure. The ones who looked like they Lived Their Art."

On the patience and diligence required to succeed as an artist:

"One of my favourite yoga teachers once told me a story during class. Since ever in China, bamboo farmers have planted baby bamboo shoots deep in the ground. And then, for three years, nothing happens. But the farmers will work, diligently watering the shoot, spreading hay and manure, waiting patiently, even though nothing is sprouting up. They simply have faith. And then, one day, the bamboo will shoot up and grow up to thirty feet in a month. It just blasts into the sky. Any small, sustainable, artist-fan community works like this."

On the relationship between fame and fortune as an artist:

"All I needed was... some people. Enough people. Enough to make it worth coming back the next day, enough people to help me make rent and put food on the table. Enough so I could keep making art."

"The happiest artists I know are generally the ones who can manage to make a reasonable living from their art without having to worry too much about the next paycheck."

"The ideal sweet spot is the one in which the artist can freely share their talents and directly feel the reverberations of their artistic gifts to the community, and make a living doing that. As artists, and as humans:if you fear is scarcity, the solution isn't necessarily abundance."

On fighting Imposter Syndrome: 

"In both the art and the business world, the difference between the amateurs and the professionals is simple. The professionals know they're winging it. The amateurs pretend they're not."

On how the internet has given power back to the people: 

"I was learning, slowly, but surely, that The Media - the traditional one, at any rate - mattered less and less. The ability to connect directly, under our own umbrella, was making one thing very clear. We were the media."

On the universal link between all different types of artists:

"The impulse to connect the dots - and to share what you've connected - is the urge that makes you an artist."

"All artists connect the dots differently. We all start off with all these live, fresh ingredients that are recognisable from the reality of our experiences (a heartbreak, a finger, a parent, an eyeball, a glass of wine) and we throw them into the Art Blender."

"All art, no matter what shape or size, has to come from somewhere."

And finally, my most favourite quote of the entire book:

On why we wallow:

"He never told me what to do. Instead, he told me stories. Here's one of my favourites:

A farmer is sitting on his porch in a chair, hanging out. A friend walks up to the porch to say hello, and hears an awful yelping, squealing sound coming from inside the house.

'What's that terrifyin' sound?' asks the friend.

'It's my dog,' said the farmer. 'He's sittin' on a nail.'

'Why doesn't he just sit up and get off it?' asks the friend.

The farmer deliberates on this and replies:

'Doesn't hurt enough yet.'


This book has honestly changed my life, or, at least, my attitude toward it. And if you're anything like me, then I think there's a bloody good chance it just might change yours too.