Recently a friend of mine has gone back to school, the daughter of another is happily enrolled in new classes and yet another friend is very seriously pursuing attending college for the upcoming winter semester. All this questing for new knowledge has left me feeling like I’m missing out, nostalgic for the classroom, which is funny because the first time through, I couldn’t wait to be done, outta there and living real life. Well that longing has landed me right in the middle of a trite — but nevertheless important – realization: I AM in school. Right now. The school of life. And I feel like I’ve been flunking this past year.
You see, I’ve been so wrapped up in being stuck on what I’m NOT accomplishing that I’ve been missing all the great stuff I HAVE been accomplishing.
I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Neil Gaiman. Reading his blog has been a comforting ritual I’ve done for a few years now — if I can’t BE accomplishing, then I’m at least going to live vicariously through someone I admire, doing what I wish I was doing. I love his imagination, his outlook on life, his calm, intelligent sense of self and the world around him and his lamppost. I was however a little taken aback when he married Amanda Palmer. It seemed like such a bizarre match for him, even taking into account that opposites attract. I found myself wondering what he was doing marrying a woman 16 years his junior. I found myself wondering if my fave author was going through the classic mid-life crisis. I found myself wondering why it mattered to me. I mean, I’ve always like older guys — you think I’d see this as ridiculous to be preoccupied over. You see, I’ve been stuck in my head a lot and this is just a fraction of the Camptown Races swirling around in my very noisy mind every day.
Lately I’ve been doing EVERYTHING I can to keep myself distracted from making my art. It terrifies me.
In being distracted though, I’ve been learning new things. One of those things has been getting to know the public side of Neil Gaiman’s wife, Amanda Palmer. It began over a year ago reading about her in his various blog posts and eventually I was drawn to reading her own blog. The woman is wild. She is honest — sometimes brutally so. Yet she is kind. Beautiful. Courageous. And she wears her heart on her sleeve. All these things endear me to her and cause me to have such a profound respect for her. And in bravely creating her art in a way few have had the vagina to — and I say this lovingly, referring to what Betty White said about growing a vagina instead of balls because balls are delicate and a vagina can really take a pounding — Amanda is making it work. Really making it work!
And because she is putting herself out there and because she is making it work, she has been attacked over so many things, from the success of her kickstarter campaign, to the request of local musicians to play her concerts for free. More importantly though, she is attracting all these new fans who suddenly adore what she is doing, the risks she is taking and the beautiful art that she is making. New fans like me.
And I find myself wanting to be that brave, wanting to take those big risks, the ones that make you question your sanity every step along the way and the very questions you cannot take the time to answer, because to do so would stop you dead in your tracks. For the rest of your life. You just have to keep flying toward the sun ignoring that your wings are disintegrating because the flight itself is just so fucking beautiful.
I feel like I understand so much now. And yet so very little. I do feel like I have a glimpse into why my favourite author is entranced by this powerful woman. My hungry imagination feels fed, it can’t get enough. My fears are still booming around me, more terrifying than ever before, but I feel compelled to act on them rather than hide from them. I have discovered this quiet little place in my mind where the fear thunders around me, but I am at peace.
So what in the world does this have to do with storytelling?! EVERYTHING!!
Take risks and write. Every day. Take risks and show your writing to other people. Take risks in your writing, with your plot, with your characters — make your characters take risks! Just put yourself out there and make good art.
I <3 you Amanda Fucking Palmer.