A letter to Amanda Palmer after reading ‘The Art Of Asking’

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Dear Amanda Palmer,

My name is Jeffrey Martin, I’m the Head Editor here at Onyx Neon Shorts, and I just wanted to send you a quick note to say: holy fucking shit balls, The Art of Asking was so good. It was the perfect blend of storytelling, practical advice, and wake up call—’get over your fears, if you want to be something, give it your all.’ As a creator and artist I constantly feel the debate raging in my head whether what I’m doing is legitimate, or whether I am just convincing myself I’m doing something good. I’m an author working on my first book, and a songwriter working on my first album, and graphic designer, editor, book lover. During your book all I kept thinking was: “please, let me feel this brave when I do my work. Please let me continue to be this dedicated!”

Your book made me want to go out and be brave. I’ve always dreamed of busking, but the idea of putting myself out there like that just terrifies me. As a songwriter, and performer, I’ve always had the idea that I would do it, but so far the fear has hindered me. However, I’m gonna do it, I really am.

I met a woman recently named Shannon Jae, and she was talking about her experience busking, and she made it sound so easy. She reminded me of you in that way. She was brave and smart. When I told her I liked to write truthful, sad songs, and she told me, with conviction, that there was “no better kind.” If you haven’t heard of her, you should check out her music on Bandcamp

Your writing was filled with the reality of living. The stories, the inner dialogue(monologue?), the constant questioning your legitimacy: all these things made your writing feel timeless, and approachable. Your stories are so genuine, and while, yes, you live a wonderfully lavish and enviable life of jet setting all over the world, you are married to an enviable man, who we all have a slight crush on, even if it’s just for his writing—is there a term to describe falling in love with someone based purely on how they write? If not, there needs to be one—but at the heart of it all you’re just an outgoing, eccentric, wonderful person, and it’s these qualities that make you so approachable. When you read a David Sedaris book, it’s hilarious, and well-written, but over all it’s not always approachable. You’re tapping into something deeper. Something more relatable and connectable. I think that might be your mission, though: to connect. That, unto itself, makes you different from basically every other person who has ever been called a celebrity. Even though I’ve never been to Australia, or played a backyard show—goals—for strangers, or written a book, you live a life of connectivity and it is this point that makes you and your book a wonder.

You and I, we live very different lives. I write songs up in my tiny Capitol Hill, Seattle, bedroom, and desperately want to be as brave as you, and want to write books like Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and continue to edit stories, and curate these short stories for Onyx Neon Shorts. I want this to be something that is big, like, really big. I want to have authors that become the next Asimov, or Rowling, the next Gaiman, and Palmer. I want to promote truth seeking. I want to find people in this world who are after what I’m after: truth. I see those kindred qualities in you, and I feel like, in another life, in another time, in another universe, we could all find each other more easily, but it’s not as easy finding kindred spirits. When you do what you love, I believe it attracts those that connect to it.

I think you use your celebrity status in exactly the same way that I would if I ever get to the point where someone knows my name in that celebrity way. I seek out authors, and they become my author family, and I try and spread their words and names to the far reaches of the universe, and hope that someone connects with their words in the way that I have. I try to write songs that dig deep into myself, and bring up something emotional universal. It’s like an undercurrent in myself that I’m not always aware of. I think of it like two rivers. One runs along the surface and is how I react to situations that come along in any given day, and the other is an underground river, that isn’t always actively influencing my day–to-day life, but is important none-the-less. Sometimes those rivers collide, and that’s my songwriting at it’s best. When my outward self discovers a new, true, moment about my inner self, this is where I want all my songs to reside.

One day, when you’re in Seattle again, I would love to buy you a cup of coffee, and talk life, the universe, and everything.

From a fan,

and reviewer.

P.S. to those of you who are reading and haven’t yet gotten that you should immediately go out and buy The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer—from The Dresden Dolls, if you don’t know—then let me address you at this time: go fucking buy it. It’s so good, and will challenge everything you think about permission to create.


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