Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking

Amanda Palmer, also known as Amanda F**king Palmer, is in high demand. In fact, she is so sought after the Sydney Writers Festival had to move her upcoming talk to a bigger venue after it sold out within 48 hours.

The rocker, Kickstarter pioneer, and viral TED talker will be joined by special guest Tara Moss for a night of conversation, readings and a touch of ukulele. Together these two feminist icons will discuss her groundbreaking and bestselling manifesto, The Art of Asking.

We were lucky enough to nab some time with her to talk writing, love, gender, her marriage to Neil Gaiman and crowdsurfing.

1) What can audiences expect from your talk at the Enmore?

I’ve just come off a book tour that snaked through the states, and I learned a lot as I snaked. Promoting a book is so much different than doing a rock show, or even a solo piano show – it’s more about the stories than the art itself.

So I started getting weird ideas and just tried them: asking people to read from the book, asking audience members to randomly pick passages from the book, taking squirmy questions. And then the rest of the night is spent hugging everybody in the audience one by one. Oh, and signing their books. But I get the feeling that the hugs are more significant.

2) Can you give us some tips on how we can connect more with those around us?

One thing I learned from the process of writing the book is that there really is a primal cost of entry to love, to connection, to the good stuff. The cost is risk, and it’s like that old cliché about making yourself vulnerable to heartbreak if you want to truly fall in love. But it’s true about all of our relationships, not just the love and sex ones.

When we risk, when we ask, when we bare our necks to each other and make ourselves vulnerable, we really do deepen the roots of our connection to one another. It’s so hard to do. Ten thousand Facebook friends do not equal the wake of one true friend willing to help you when you’re at your most vulnerable.

3) Do you still couchsurf and crowdsurf?

Ha! Yes, I do. I crowdsurfed the shit out of myself when I was on my last band tour. And I still stay at a lot of friend’s houses, but rarely do I tweet for a random place to lay my head, because the need doesn’t come up as often as it used to. I know so many people now that it’s hard to find strangers.

4) What surprised you most about writing a book?

How much it deepened my understanding of my husband (Neil Gaiman) and his working process. It’s one thing to see someone writing a book, it’s another thing to feel what it’s like to write one. You really do travel to another planet in your head for a while and live there, and now his vacant stares seem more meaningful … well, forgivable … well, understandable. It was like getting a secret invitation into “Writer Brain”, which actually has, I think, improved our marriage.

5) Any tips for emerging writers?

Yes. Writing is not fun. Do not think that it is fun. It’s not. Well, I take that back. Writing the very, very first draft of something can occasionally be fun. But the second, third, fourth drafts, the endless editing – that shit is not fun. If you just accept the fact that writing is not fun, it’s way easier. We have the romantic ideas of writing: they’re just false. It’s boring, boring work, with moments of sheer ecstasy (namely, finally finishing something).

I feel this same way about songwriting. I’ve been a songwriter for twenty years, and I still love having written things far more than I like writing itself. Admitting and accepting that was really useful.

6) Are you looking forward to being in cahoots with Tara Moss?

I think Tara is a really important voice, especially in Oz where the gender stereotypes run rampant. I’m so excited to talk to her about a billion things on stage.

7) What do you hope punters take away from your talk? 

If nothing else, a sense of connection with themselves and the other people in the show. A sense that they’re not as alone as they may have believed.

8) If you could describe this upcoming event in three words only, what would you say?

Come Feel Things.

Published in City Hub online and in print on Jan 15, 2015

 

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