Roadwork has been going on in front of my house for over eight weeks—horrendous dust and dust storms, constant machine noise, speeders that don’t slow down for road conditions, dirt embedded inside and outside my car, and layers of dust covering my house and property. I can’t sit out on my beautiful deck without inhaling copious amounts of dust (not good for someone with asthma). And, their big trucks wake me every morning by 7:30. Maybe the upside is I might finally become a morning person?
I’ll be happy when it’s over and I’ll appreciate the new services. I’m not complaining… well, maybe a little…but I’m writing about this because I was horrified to realize this morning that I’ve become used to all this noise and commotion.
As I’m typing, my house is shaking. Vibrating. The sound of a jackhammer like an angry bird beating its wings against my windows. Rat-a-tat-tat. Rat-a-tat-tat. Read more
Have you ever felt like a fraud? You’re writing away or starting a new painting or composing a song and you’re suddenly stopped by those terrible voices in your head that say you’re a fake, a poser, a no-good mime of life.
I pretty much have this feeling every day. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing or working my business, it’s always there at some point—whether it’s a whisper or a tsunami of sound. That little nudge of self-doubt. Can I really do this? Will “they” find me out? Whatever made me believe I could write a novel? Or be an artist?
Imagine all the time, opportunities, and joy lost to the fear of “being found out.” I’ve known people who have become crippled by this fear. Unable to move on. Unable to pursue their dreams. Unable to get out of their dire circumstances. Unable to live.
Amanda Palmer’s 2011 commencement speech at The New England Institute of Art’s Class addresses this issue. Amanda calls these voices in our head the Fraud Police.
She says the Fraud Police are an imaginary terrifying force of grownups that don’t exist. But they come to your house at three o’clock in the morning and pound on your door and shout “Fraud police!! We’ve been watching you, and we have evidence that you have no idea what you are doing….You do not actually deserve your job and we are taking everything away and we are telling everybody.”
We’ve all felt, at one time or another, that we’re “fakers,” that we don’t really know what we’re doing. It doesn’t matter who you are—an artist, a teacher, a police officer—everyone has a fear of the Fraud Police finding them out.
Amanda says that there are no rule books for artists. Scientists and doctors and astronauts actually have an easier time because they have a specific path to follow with certain rules. They have a destination.
So, how do we combat the imaginary Fraud Police? One way, says Amanda, is to continue doing what you do. Every day. Take opportunities to learn and grow and help others in your field. Volunteer. Do your work. Create your art. Step outside your comfort zone.
She says, and I believe, that making art is just as important as building a bridge or curing cancer. After a long, stressful day of work or saving lives, what do you think these professionals need to save them? Yes, art.
Keep making your art. It is important. It saves lives.
When my Fraud Police stop by now, I say, “Hello! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I’m a fraud but so are you! At least I’m trying to figure it out. You’re just annoying. I’m busy now but check back later. Bye-bye!” What usually happens, is they go off and bother somebody else and forget to come back later, at least that day.
Musician Amanda Palmer gave her first Ted.com talk recently on “The Art of Asking.” You can view the 13-minute video here:
Amanda describes her type of music as a mix of punk and cabaret and says that it may not be for everyone. When I went to my first Amanda Palmer concert in Seattle a few years ago, I didn’t know what to expect.
I’ve never pigeonholed myself as one type of music listener—I enjoy everything from classical to rock to country to blues to alternative—depending on my mood and what I want from my listening experience. And, I have to confess, I mainly went to her concert to hear her husband, author Neil Gaiman, read. Read more
Writing is a solitary, sometimes lonely process—we tuck ourselves away physically and mentally in the name of our art. Because we’re used to spending time alone with white space and words, writers tend to be a bit introverted.
As an artist, I think it’s important to also seek community—not only with other writers but with different types of artists. Going outside our comfort zone can inspire us in new ways. Recently, I was so inspired.
I traveled to Seattle to see poet, author, graphic novelist, and lovely [British version (inside joke)] singer Neil Gaiman and singer, songwriter, piano and ukulele slayer Amanda Palmer (who just happen to be married to each other) in an astounding multidimensional performance. Gaiman read his poems and short stories. Palmer sang and played her own music.
Not only were the duo incredibly entertaining but watching them perform was like watching art being born in front of me. Something visceral and human and transcendent took place on stage. It was the kind of performance that leaves you trembling with aftershocks that you know you’ll be processing for months or, even, years.
At some basic level the experience transformed me as an artist. I feel more connected to my center and to my art. And maybe that’s what great art is meant to do, no matter what the medium—connect us to that which we’ve been missing and to that which we didn’t know we were missing.
To learn more about Amanda Palmer and hear samples of her songs click here.
For access to Neil Gaiman’s wonderful world of skullduggery click here.