This also appeared on my Medium page.
Just a warning for anyone reading, this is most likely going to sound jumbled, disoriented, and unconnected. I write very much as I think of it, and very much from an AHDH brain. So just roll with it.
These are my thoughts on Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help”
I just finished reading the second of the most important books I feel were published in 2014 (The first is Janet Mock’s “Redefining Realness”, as if you had to ask.) This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine after I posted to Facebook something that really was me trying to vent, but in my makes sense to me way:
Some days I feel like I should somehow network my way into Twitter or Facebook. Especially since both companies are going full-in on the news game. Seriously…LOL
(This is also one of those times where I know I know people who know people but am afraid to ask.)
Asking for help has always been one of those things that I have been very bad at. On the surface, especially if you only know me from Twitter or Facebook, I can seem very outgoing, but I’m very much a scared, shy kid inside. I’m forever the dreamer but who has no idea how to make dreams into reality. And that’s why I was told to read this book by a friend. I’ll get more into this block of text copied and pasted from my Facebook later on. So stay tuned! But after the break…
Artists connect the dots–we don’t need to interpret the lines between them. We just draw them and then present our connections to the world as a gift, to be taken or left. This IS the artistic act, and it’s done every day by many people who don’t even think to call themselves artists.
Then again, some people are crazy enough to think they can make a living at it. (Page 17)
That is a quote from page 17 of the book. A quote that I highlighted while I was writing. I had a note written into the page through the wonderful Kindle note taking system, but while trying to bring it up on my shitty ass laptop, I managed to delete it. Damn. It was going to make a beautiful point to why I shared that quote. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to re-make it.
I’m good at connecting the dots. When it comes to video. Hand me a camera, put me in the Director’s chair, and I’m fucking good at what I do. Seriously, ask around. Don’t believe them? Here’s my YouTube: http://lnkdby.me/12ThhQL. Interestingly, though, until I read this book, I’d never seemed to think of it as an art form. I direct a newscast on OverDrive for Pete’s sake. This was something I did. Something I do. Every. Fucking. Day. Me an artist? But you know what. The more I really thought about it (lmao…accidentally wrote tit there) I guess I too am in this wonderfully crazy mess. It does take a certain artistic skill to frame up a shot, or to know exactly when you need to make a cut, or coax a camera operator into just that absolutely perfect shot. Oh and I’m apparently, also, one of those crazy people who thinks that they can make a living at it. Oh shit. LOL.
Taking the donuts is hard for a lot of people. (Page 179)
Yes. Yes it is. Very hard in fact.
I still am very much like how Amanda was when Neil offered to lend her money. I have several friends who have dangled donuts in front of me. Some people you have never heard of, some, interestingly enough, household names (or at least people with a verified check mark and follower count in the double-digit thousands.) I know they have. I know there are some who want to help me. Very much so. But I have a hard time taking the donuts. (Unless they have sprinkles. Which you should have mentioned in the first place.)
But why is it hard? Ok I’ll admit it: I’m scared.
Scared of being rejected. Scared of “no.” Scared of the own voices in my head which seemingly on a daily basis tell me that I suck. (Seriously, they’re even worse if I make a mistake on-the-air.) And really, scared of the unknown.
Yeah… This was all addressed in the book too. But I never highlighted it so I don’t have a fancy quote to pop in here. So how about this funny one.
The professionals know they’re winging it. The amateurs pretend they’re not. (Page 44)
Oh yeah. You betcha. If only people knew how many times I was winging it when we walked out of a breaking news, OMG what the hell is happening, everything is going to hell show with a sparkling clean show report. Seriously. Winging it. Oops. I probably shouldn’t have shared that secret. LOL.
Our first job in life is to recognize the gifts we’ve already got, take the donuts that show up while we cultivate and use those gifts, and turn around and share those gifts […]
Our second job is to accept where we are in the puzzle at each moment. (Page 306)
I recognize the gifts I have. I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for donuts given to me a while ago. OK. Pull up a chair, it’s story time.
Back in 2011 I was stressed out, ready to crack, and at wit’s end. Trust me, it was not pretty. I was tossed a lifeline, donut if you will, by my mother: “Quit. Move home. And we’ll figure it out.” So I did. I used another donut to land an interview at a trailer house in Los Angeles. It didn’t work out. But then another landed in my lap. My now boss asked me to just come up for an interview (he’d been working on me for like a year at that point.) I did. And this is where I’ve been for the last 3 years. Directing the news in the 15th largest market in the country. Sometimes at horrible hours of the morning. Or sometimes not directing. Sometimes it’s running cameras, or the audio board, or whatever.
And I’ve shared those donuts when I can. Or at least what appear to be for me. A recommendation that helped Jeannie. A letter for Missi. The countless offers to help out, listen to, or just talk to an intern who is about to graduate college and is scared of the looming darkness of the job search.
Or you know just the part where I don’t abandon those who I have chosen to bring into my circle of chosen family. Where I sit with them while they’re in the ER, or in a hospital room, hooked up to machines, having technically died…twice. When I give a ride to a friend who calls me up in a panic, even though I should have been in bed hours ago. Or when I just sit and listen, because a friend is having a shitty day and needs someone to talk to.
But interestingly, I still have a VERY hard time asking for anything in return. Which brings me back to my original statement that sparked the whole “you have to read Amanda’s book.”
I’m going to preface this with the fact I love what I do. I love the people I work with. And I love the community at large. But I swear this state is slowly killing me. Mostly in the 9 months where the temperatures hover somewhere between meat locker and absolute zero. Which is why I wrote my Facebook update last night. After reading about how Facebook is trying to win breaking news (and how twitter is, and I quote Twitter’s media boss Katie Jacobs-Stanton, “not a media company.”) And all while feeling I could do something bigger, better. And less newsy for a change.
And there in lies where my problem is. I have a network. I have donuts being dangled in front of me. But I have the problem of not knowing how to ask for those donuts. Oh and you know the problem of feeling like I don’t actually deserve to have those donuts in the first place. That…non-authentic feeling.
So I guess I’ll do it here, not that I’m sure any of them is actually reading this. Or if they did reading down this far: Let me take the donuts. Please help me get to a warm part of the country, or at least New York City. Just don’t send me to Chicago. I’m not ready for that drama yet.
Oh and one more quote from the book:
If you love people enough, they’ll give you everything. (Page 312)
P.S. A completely off-track side note to all of this. I still owe Janet’s book a big post like this. That is if I could figure out how on earth to actually decipher my notes. I kind of made random scribblies on paper since I didn’t want to ruin the book (that she awesomely signed for me later on too!!) I’ll have to get the Kindle version so that I can make all sorts of highlights and scribblies directly in the text.