I held a heart in my hand for a couple of days. A real beating heart. Bleeding, too. It was a book. I was reading THE ART OF ASKING by Amanda Palmer, and I was bleeding with her. I couldn't believe that there was someone out there who got me. And I mean, really got me. It was one of those rare moments you experience when you read a book and you want the author to be your best friend. No, better. You actually think the author is your best friend already. You think alike. You have the same ideas. The same feelings. The same rhythm of a heartbeat.
Isn't this why we write?
We write to connect our hearts. Isn't it true?
I've been chatting with Amanda on Twitter since I've posted a comment on her blog post about Justin Bieber (you all remember the story). Out of 187 comments mine rose to the top with 64 likes. And we started talking. We started tweeting. Originally I have followed Amanda a while ago on Twitter because someone told me to watch her TED talk.
They said, "She is doing a similar thing."
Other people said, "You are doing this thing like Amanda Palmer is doing!"
I said, "What thing?"
I went and I watched her TED talk and cried and understood what people meant. I give away all my books for free. Yes, you are not obligated to ever pay me anything. All ebook files are available for download on my site. I do have to charge for paper, though, cause it costs money, dammit.
I went and I looked at Amanda's music on her site and saw that, Wow! she gives her music away for free too! So that's where we connect!
Well, since then I think we found each other, and when Amanda asked me to be her guest in Seattle on her book tour, I was beyond myself with glee, and I started reading the advance copy of THE ART OF ASKING, to prep and everything. You know me. I tweet about everything that I do, so I tweeted my impressions page by page, and we chatted and connected over the book, and I was so moved, I wrote a review and Amanda read it and loved it and blogged about it. Below you will find the review itself, but the point I wanted to make is this.
We write to connect. We read to connect. Every once in a great while we find that other human being who understands us so completely that we cry and cry and cry and can't stop. That happened to me while reading THE ART OF ASKING. Read it. It's beautiful. It officially publishes on November 11th.
Oh, and if you want to come see me chat with Amanda on stage, buy tickets here!
And now. The review itself.
Asking. It seems like such a simple thing. We do it every day. We ask, “How are you?” and “Do you mind if I sit down?” and “Can you please hold this?” and “Do you remember that song?” We ask and ask and ask and most of the time don’t think much about it, until it comes to asking for big things. Money. “Can you loan me $1,000?” A place to live. “Is it okay if I camp out at your apartment for a couple months?” Transportation. “May I borrow your car?” Fundraising. “Please contribute to our cause?” Help. Any kind of serious help. Anything going beyond the doughnut. Anything that involves a serious risk on the other side of the party, or serious trust in us. And why would someone want to trust someone in this life where we have learned not to trust strangers? Where since we were little, since that moment when we gave away all our toys to that neighbor kid and when our parents scolded us and told us, “You don’t just give your things away like that when someone asks!” Or when we asked someone for that candy and were told, “No, that’s mine. Go away. Go buy your own candy.” It was not until that moment that we have started being ashamed of asking. We were told it was wrong. We were brought up to rely on ourselves. We were supposed to become self-sufficient adults. Only many of us self-sufficient adults later break down, understanding that we can’t possibly survive on our own. We need help. We can’t live without help. And we don’t know how to ask.
The Art of Asking is a beautiful story that is exactly that, a piece of art about asking. Amanda drew a painting with words, or maybe made music with words, or simply took out her thoughts and dropped them on paper as they were, illustrating her own path to learning how to ask, what it means, why there is so much fear, in her, in people around her, in all of us. And it’s bare, this story. Holding this book you’re holding Amanda, bare, because she trusts you, the reader, to see her. And you, the reader, will see this story if you trust her. It’s human. It’s touching. It’s raw. It’s messy. It’s all what life is. It’s vulnerable. It will make you pause and think and examine your own life, your own messiness and fears and everything human that is in you. You might connect with it, you might not. But I hope that on fundamental level, on the level of your heart, you will. And perhaps you will ask people in your life for things you were always afraid to ask for. Just like I’m asking you right now to read this book.