who the hell do i think you are
good morning from havelock north, aotearoa. it’s 7:30 am. i’m going to be posting the Monthly Althing soon, but im trying to get out of the habit of making those too long; they are supposed to be “digests”, after all, and so i am getting my monthly emotional ya-yas out here instead.
first of all: wherever you are, i love you. everybody i know, especially in the states, is dealing with a lot of pain and exhaustion right now. and especially, to my friends and community in melbourne, and the west coast back in the states….i am feeling you, hourly. we are all in this hell circle together and i just want you to know you are not alone and that your pain and your confusion is felt, by me, all the way over here. holy fuck, everybody, this world.
i just posted the above picture to instagram with the following text.
the photo is from yesterday in haumoana, and that’s rosheen’s daughter, sita, and ash.
just a little mental health update for your monday morning / sunday night.
i’ve been shutting down my work shop as completely as i can on the weekends lately and try to just hang out with ash. i’m so fragile but so strangely calm inside. i feel like i’ve achieved whole new levels of okayness in the last few months. like: if i can be okay with this, then really i can be okay with anything.
i know i am lucky to be here. the spring is coming and the birds are ecstatic in the mornings. they symphony hello every day and i feel a massive sense of peace when i hear them from my bed. the and the ultra vivid and spread-icing skies of this country have been soothing my mind as we drive around from friend to friend. having friends is amazing in itself. that ash can touch so many people is amazing. i take far fewer things for granted and i hope that will never change. i have now lived here in aotearoa for six months.
i find that so hard to believe. sometimes i feel tempted to panic.
mostly i don’t. my friends and community at home are suffering. i find myself confused about how to spend my time, so i often default to spending it with ash because i know that cannot be wrong. but i am also feeling the pull more strongly than ever to write. i wake up every morning filled with mental dots connected and words i want to commit to paper.
it’s 6:30 am. i’m going to pay that ash sleeps til 7:30 and i’m going to head to my patreon and write a longer meta-post about who i have floating around in my head when i write, how certain people and dark imaginings trap and censor me from the inside, and how the way i’m even looking at writing has changed since covid, since getting here. and i’m only writing this on instagram because now there is a contract with my patrons, many of whom are on this feed, and this was my way of magicking a cosmic request that ash please for the love of the baby jesus sleep another hour so i can write.
so here i am, writing in my pajamas, and the amount that i write will be determined by what time this child wakes up.
it’s as random a set of constraints as any, i suppose.
what i was thinking about this morning was actually related…
i wanted to muse for a second about my edits and filters when i write these posts, and how that’s changed over the years, and even over the past six months.
i’ve been listening to and reviewing the old podcast recordings and interviews i did (there were twenty interviews of about two hours each….there’s a LOT to review) and i came across the moment where lenny henry and i are discussing how we have to filter what we memoir to protect our standing in our families.
this place i write now, this patreon, is very different from other things. ive been “blogging” for twenty years. do they even still call it that? why don’t we just call it “writing for an internet audience” for now. i’ve been writing for an internet audience fore twenty years.
i used to write on the big, weird, wide ol’ internet, straight onto my website. i never knew quite who was reading.
i still don’t.
and for a while in the mid-to-late aughts, social media and touring drained a lot of my ability to write a full sentence.
i still find myself wondering if i haven’t gotten it all wrong, when i tell people what i do.
there is no doubt, over the last twenty years: i have spent ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times more energy on writing put-together words to the internet than i have writing songs. i used to be ashamed of this. i’m not so much, anymore. not when i meet people at shows who say that a certain blog or post got them out of an abusive relationship, or ended their bulimia, or whatever. i’m like, eh. song. blog. tweet. it’s all just words, and maybe it’s art. when i die, i will have put some things into the universe. that’s kind of it, isn’t it. my ego is not what it was. i don’t need an award. i don’t need an official letter from the academy. i know that what i’ve done has had an impact, and that is all i need.
but there is also this:
many of you use social media to stay connected to your closer friends and families.
i never really curated a sacred space on or in which to do that. i made and kept many of my touring friends through twitter. and sometimes my friends and family would read my blog. but mostly, i assumed that they didn’t.
interestingly, the ones who followed my blogs or social media wound up having a very different relationship to me, and i to them.
but this detachment does feel very strange….and there’s always a vague uncertainty around who is recieving what i am broadcasting.
after i put out the new song (the one for patrons only the other day), which is one of my proudest songwriting moments, i got a text a few hours later from someone in my family who told me it brought it her to tears. that brought me to tears, because i hadn’t known she was paying attention. i’d never seen her in the comments. it brought me so much solace, and i think i need that solace so much more than usual given how separated i am right now from my clan.
back in the 2000s, when i was writing a lot about my deep and complicated feelings about…..everything….my family would occasionally reach out to me, but only with either anger or concern. i would rarely get an email saying that something i wrote had touched or moved them. i learned to be more careful with what i shared. they all stayed in my head, ghostly, as if they could be reading any or every word i wrote….even though i suspected that, for the most part, they never read anything at all.
i’ve also gone through interesting phases of what i’ve come to think of as emotional-revenge-blogging. i’ve gone through enough tough relationship moments with enough people over the past twenty years….boyfriends, girlfriends, exes, family, staff, journalists….all manner of people with whom i’ve gotten into heated, emotional tussles.
everybody knows what it feels like to chew on a nagging relationship that is haunting you….and THEY often lurk around in my brain as i am writing, and as i try to find the words to put to my experiences: how will i seem? will i seem unhinged? angry? do i want to seem angry? do i want to seem happy and carefree? do i want to seem like i am living my hashtag best life even though they are trying to make my week hell? and so on…
as i’ve grown older, i’ve mostly just started to grow more aware of these tempting performances and just set them aside as i write. the more tempting the performance, the more i know i need to practice my self-control in the performing department.
but still, it’s very tempting.
one of the things i have enjoyed about growing older, as a writer, as a sharer, is the loosening of these mental chains that bind. i’ve watched my other writer friends lately tangle with family “cancelations” or ghostings, or threatened cancelations or ghostings, over information shared in blogs and memoirs. its almost worth writing it’s own book…and something that i became very aware of when reading other people’s writings. having walked through the hell0-circle of editing for various audiences (the industry! my family! my exes! the critics! my community! my old bandmates!) while writing “the art of asking”, i now find myself reading other peoples memoirs and paying particular attention to the careful politicking that authors have to enact: how divorces are explained, how blame can be subtle, how memoirs can be used for what my editor, jamy, and i used to call “score-settling”.
we deleted many a paragraph in my book – the art of asking – because we determined that i was just using my platform to get a jab in. it was really humbling. having the right editor was key. jamy got to know my weaknesses, the scores i was tempted to settle, and he would hold my hand and walk me away from the cliff of anger of suffering. it helped to have a friend literally in the room to whom i could rage: BUT I WAS THERE AND IT WAS ALL SO UNFAIR AND I WANT TO TELL THE WORLD HOW FUCKING UNFAIR IT WAS RAH RAH RAH WAH WAH WAH and he would say, no, amanda, you’re score-settling, but you can tell ME.
and we would go downstairs and eat pasta and this is how my editor became a best friend and accidental therapist. he got my deeper life story; the one i was smart enough not to tell in my book, because i wanted my book to be better than i was.
i wonder if jamy will read this post. maybe i’ll send it to him.
jamy is actually one of my friends and colleagues who does regularly read my posts, and it makes me happy, because when i give him a random call, he knows me still.
i tried, for a moment, to run a sort of “friends and family” facebook page, just for people close to me, but i found it incredibly dissatisfying that i use it a few times a year for christmas-card-like updates about my whereabouts and ash. i occasionally ask my friends and family over there to subscribe to my patroeon, but it feels tacky to ask my friends and family to pay for my blog-feed….even though i, as the author of the art of fucking asking, should know better. i’ve offered to send them $12 checks in the mail to cover the cost of the patreon. i just want them to be able to get my posts in their email. patreon still hasn’t made it possible to “gift” patronage.
ash woke up, i just did our gorgeous school walk, and i’m back to finish.
i called my friend maria popova the other day, and she asked me when i was going to put together a book-collection of my blog/internet-writings….and i heaved that long sigh as i told her that i’ve been dreaming about finding a magical wise unicorn-editor for that project for five years. it would take a few years of full-time work, i think, to read through the 7,000,000+ words i’ve written through the years and mine the gold, then thread it together.
i also think i might have another book in me.
it is clearly formed in my head, and wants to come to life.
i haven’t wanted to write another book before, really.
the last one killed me.
in fact, during the edit of “the art of asking”, i made friends promise to remind me never to write a fucking book again, that the pain was not worth it.
but still, i write. what is writing, even?
i’m writing right now. i’m even getting paid for it. this is patreon, after all.
who the hell do i think you are?
you’re part reader, part patron, part family, part friends, part community, part salary-payer, part safet-net….
all love, all the time.
i think i’m just starting to figure this out.
i say that every time, don’t i.
one last note: your comments always heklp me to understans who you are, and that you’re out there.
it is why i love it when you comment.
it helps me know what i am, and what this is.
you don’t always have to, but i’m always reading. so….if you comment, ever….thank you.
off to work.
p.s. i though i’d take a selfie of me in my pajamas at my little writing table in our air bnb. morning lewks.
——THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS———
IF YOU’RE IN THE USA…..DON’T FORGET TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN THE NOVEMBER 2020 ELECTION. DO NOT BE CONFUSED!!! help is there: you can register to vote, find your local voter registration deadlines, update your voter registration, check that your registration is still on the books, find your polling place and other important election information HERE at http://headcount.org
1. if you’re a patron, please click through to comment on this post. at the very least, if you’ve read it, indicate that by using the heart symbol. that’s always nice for me to see, so i know who’s reading.
2. see All the Things (over 100 of them) i’ve made so far on patreon: http://amandapalmer.net/things
3. JOIN THE SHADOWBOX COMMUNITY FORUM, find your people, and discuss everything: https://forum.theshadowbox.net/
4. new to my music and TOTALLY OVERWHELMED? TAKE A WALK THROUGH AMANDALANDA….we made a basic list of my greatest hits n stuff (at least up until a few years ago, this desperately needs updating) on this lovely page: http://amandalanda.amandapalmer.net/
5. general AFP/patreon-related questions? ask away, someone will answer: firstname.lastname@example.org