I get into TED Talk ruts when I’m procrastinating, and one of my favorites to hear over and over again is Amanda Palmer’s discussion on the art of asking. It’s about putting yourself out there, shamelessly and fearlessly exploring your creativity, and allowing others to join you.
A lot of her talk has to do with letting rather than requiring people to contribute monetarily to the arts — music in particular — and that’s a hard one to apply to writing when I see authors of both bestselling and unknown books plea with their followers to stop bootlegging their work. But the meat of her presentation is that when you open your arms and let people enjoy and sometimes participate in the act of creativity, chances are they’ll say yes.
It took me a while to be comfortable starting a creative writing blog. I used to write about media issues and journalism, feminism and racism, professional life and personal achievements. That seemed safe because I was often just expounding my opinion, and (as Weezer says) if you don’t like it, you can shove it. But putting creative writing pieces online for anyone and everyone to come across was dangerous, because if people didn’t like it, it wasn’t necessarily because they were wrong: It was, in my mind at least, because the work I had published was bad.
A year and a half later, I’m realizing that’s not the case. This reader-writer community doesn’t go out of its way to shit on something by an unknown, unpublished writer. Instead, every time I get pinged because someone liked a post I put up on Convincing the Muse, I want to put just a few more words on the page. It’s encouraging, and it’s community.