beauty

Public Access

So, I've been watching Amanda Fucking Palmer's glorious TED talk "The Art of Asking" over and over. It's profound and speaks to my hippy dippy crowd-love soul. It's 15 minutes well spent and should be required viewing for all artists,performers, musicians and storytellers across the world. Not because it's The Way or anything, but because there is wisdom there and it raises some fantastic questions that we need to ask ourselves about what we do. Check out the video (linked above) and meet me after the jump for my thoughts.

In her TED talk, Amanda shares stories about her time as a street performer and the human experiences she had with other people. She discusses crowd-sourcing a couch to sleep on while on tour, and her propensity of finding artists and performers to share at her shows. (Fun fact: my last professional poi gig was spinning glow/sock poi for 3 consecutive hours at a Dresden Dolls show in Tempe '08 as part of the call for artists. Hella fun.) In all the stories of personal connection there are lessons about what we as artists/creators do on the person-to-person interaction as well as profound questions about how we move forward in the digital age.

"I maintain that crowd surfing and couch surfing are basically the same thing. You're falling into the audience and trusting each other." - AFP

I've said before that writers need to write from a place of truth if they want a good story. We need to be able to be vulnerable and be unabashedly human and real within our stories to lend them a visceral truth that is recognizable by the reader. We have to fall into our audience and trust that they will accept our gift to them in the spirit in which it was given. And you need to similarly build trust with your reader. They need to trust that you will lead them through the story. That you will answer the questions you ask in the story and make good on your end of the connection. Putting a book out there isn't just a monetary exchange. You are connecting with someone, inviting them into your story to introduce them to a world of your creation. You're opening yourself up to be ripped apart on the Internet for writing drivel. You're allowing yourself to be seen in a very special way when you put it out there. Even if it's just a short story on a blog, you're taking what some see as  a risk. You open yourself up to criticism as well as compliments. (Compliments are just as hard to take sometimes as flame comments. I'll get to that in another post.) At the end of the day, making your writing public is crowdsurfing. You're falling into an audience and trusting each other.

"Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance...but {being an artist} is about a few people loving you up close and those people being enough." - AFP

There's something else going on here, though. There's an openness that isn't just the vulnerability of telling a story, but also of being accessible to your audience. The past decade has seen a major change in the way artists can react with their fans. I can have a late night Twitter conversation with Steven Brust or get into a giggle fit with Christopher Moore. Thanks to the internet and email I have damn near instant access to not just other fans but a direct connection to the artists, actors, musicians and authors that I admire. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, blogs... all of them help us connect with each other, our audiences and our heroes.

Right now newb authors are being coaxed into diving into the social network pool head first. It's part of building your platform, right? Well, I know it's not for everyone. I was talking with a friend once who is a damn fine storyteller. He said, though, that if he ever wrote those stories down and tried to sell them he would be a recluse. He wouldn't be a social media maven with live Tweet chats or blog tours or any of that. He's too private a person and shuns that kind of exposure. Right now, that approach is a difficult one to make because we as an audience want that kind of access. That connection is a sacred one and I think it's something we've lost, but are finally getting back.

It's a question you need to ask yourself as an artist: how accessible do I want to be to my audience? This will determine the content of your online presence and your interaction with your crowd. The question is largely about trust and the answer has everything to do with your comfort level and your life.

Personally, while I do keep certain parts of my life veiled, I've been an open book here. I prefer it that way. By showing you my stories, you've already seen me naked and bare. I've left myself open to whatever you can throw at me. The more public you go, the wider that scope is and the more risk there seems to be. There's more of an opportunity for rejection and vitriol, more of a chance that someone will shout words that trigger your softest spots. We want people to like us and our words, we don't want to hear our own insecurities made real. It's bad enough that we have those voices blaring in our heads, but to hear those words come from someone else's mouth? There is a risk. But there are rewards. Great ones that hinge on the connection made between author and reader. To be open to those experiences is to be vulnerable and accessible to strangers. It takes trust.

This is why when I see an author/musician/performer behaving badly that I get up in arms. It's a breach of the unspoken contract we build, an abuse of trust.

Anyway, I really don't have a good way to wrap this up today. So, I'll say thank you. Thank you for coming here, sitting by my fire and talking story with me. Thank you for letting me share pieces of me and my writing with you. Thank you for seeing me.

Prepare Yourself

The end is nigh! Or not... Anyway. I've been remiss for a while with updating the blog. I've been sick of late and went on a three day binge of DayQuil, orange juice and episodes of Say Yes To The Dress. Honestly, other than the rise and fall of my temperature there's not much to report here at the moment.

My family and I are watching Avatar: The Last Airbender together in the evenings. Love it muchly. If you've not seen it, check it out on Netflix.

Um...yeah. I've got nothing. OH! Right! So, in the next few weeks we'll (and by we, I mean me, the voices in my head and a monkey in a fez) be rolling out a brand new website for yours truly. An honest to Loki website with my own domain and everything. So yeah, watch this space for details on that.

I need chai.

 

Today's Muse

For a writer and audiophile, I can also be a very visual person. When I'm working on a piece, I often cast the characters with known actors. Sometimes it's just for their voice--so in my head it reads like an audio play--but other times I have a full movie in my mind. I'll go looking for pictures that capture a character or a line.Sometimes I need pictures of settings. Sometimes my muse is aural and lives in a song or sound.

Today I started working on a short story that has nothing to do with trickster gods or technomancy. There was the usual struggle with the beginning. The story fought with me a bit and for a few hours the only things we agreed upon were its setting (a hospice) and the fact that the male lead looks like a particularly nummy actor. I've already got a few pictures of him in my casting files, so I went through them, certain that I have a picture that fits this character.

Found it.

Today, this picture has been my muse.

Thank you, Mr. Hiddleston, for being so right for this role.

And We're Back

Hi! School started today so that means I have more time to actually contribute to this blog! Woooo! So, I thought we could talk about something near and dear to my heart: The Olympics. I love the Olympics. Winter. Summer. Doesn't matter where they are. I. Love. Them. Sadly, they are now over for another 18 months, but London put on one hell of a show. I thought the Opening Ceremonies were breathtaking. Last night's Closing Ceremonies took the mother fucking taco. I kept a running commentary going on my personal Facebook page. My soul friend and fellow Olympics Guru BJA joined me for some clever color. Meet me after the jump for my version of the Closing Ceremonies.

Closing Ceremonies commentary #1: Largest STOMP cast ever assembled = Jamie-gasm. Also, opening with STOMP + a choir singing a gorgeous Beatles tune? Jaw-droppingly happy me.
 
Closing Ceremonies commentaries #3 & 8: Imagine is the perfect Olympics song! And now I have something in my eye. Yes the Lennon tribute made me cry.

Closing Ceremonies commentary #10: BOWIE!  --Well, sorta Bowie. Music and pictures and supermodels. Sean asked me, "Why couldn't they just GET David Bowie?" I then went into my long-winded conspiracy theory that he was busy being Annie Lennox for the evening. I mean, come on. You never see Annie Lennox and David Bowie together at the same time. Sure, they toured together, but I didn't see it, so I have no actual proof that they aren't the same person. Just sayin'.  Closing Ceremonies Commentary # 18: Annie Fucking Lennox!! --I think I've made my point. 

Closing Ceremonies commentary #23: Are you fucking kidding me? Russell Brand ruining some of of the best songs ever?!?! Love his costume and the bus, but gah! NO!

Closing Ceremonies commentary #30: Fat Boy Slim? Poi please! Let's get this shit spinning!

Closing Ceremonies commentary #39: Between the ringmaster-ish costume from Brand, the song Freedom by George Michael, and the commercial that just played Katy Perry's "Peacock", I officially miss Sin Aesthesia. What I didn't miss? Spice Girls.

Closing Ceremonies commentary #42: AND AFTERRRRAAAAAALLLLL YOU'RE MY WONDERWA-AH-AAAAAAAAAAALL.

Closing Ceremonies commentary #49: Finally! A Python!!!! (and a Rutle.)

Closing Ceremonies commentary #50: MOTHER FUCKING FREDDY MERCURY!!!!! Closing Ceremonies commentary #63: What? Flags? No... no flags. Bring back the rock concert to end all rock concerts! BJA: Brazil has a fun, catchy anthem. Makes me want to prance about the house in my knickers. Hmmm. Be right back... Closing Ceremonies commentary #69: Rio's presentation better have half-naked people dancing with beads and drums and go carnivale style if it's going to compete with Freddy Mercury's Ghost.

BJA:  I could send you shots of my half-naked prancing to the Brazilian anthem, if that'd help.

Me: As long as you never show me your Brazillian.

BJA: Radioactive drum majors? Jamie, why do they have drums on their heads? Is this a weird marching band thing the rest of us are unaware of?

Me: Ah, yes! The oft forgotten cranial percussionists. Disbanded in 1979 because of an East German doping scandal.

Closing Ceremonies commentary #73: Holy shit, it's Pele!
 

Closing Ceremonies commentary 79: No more talky! GET TO THE WHO! BJA: Dr. Rog sounds like a Bond villain.

Closing Ceremonies commentary #82: Does the flame have to go away? :( *sad panda*  *gasp* OMG PHOENIX!!!
Closing Ceremonies commentary 88: FUCK Animal Practice! I want to see THE WHO perform Baba O'Reilly (which I totally called an hour ago)! Goddammit, NBC!
BJA: I declare jihad on NBC.

 

Thank you, London. That was the best damn Olympics I can remember. Class, character and grace. .... and now, I start counting down for Sochi 2014. This ends our coverage of the London 2012 games and the Closing Ceremonies thereof. From all of us here in the studio we'd like to say that Bob Costas sucks, London rocks and I'm so full of adrenaline from that concert, how the hell am I going to sleep. This is the Blue Bee Girl signing off. .... For now.

So, I'm thinking that between now and February 2014, BJA and I have to prepare a podcast where we can be the awesome commentators we truly are. We're better than Costas and the Today Show crew (who turned the Opening Ceremonies into a London version of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade). So yeah. This will be fun! Commentating from FANS, not from people who have scripts, teleprompters and tape delay. Or pesky FCC regulations regarding profanity. 

Brain Stew

This is a potpourri of random thoughts that I've had recently. They're too long for tweets, but too short for their own posts, so you get mental ramblings. Dive on in the stream of consciousness, kids! The water's warm!

Looks like I am now officially a Denver Broncos fan. Don't get me wrong, I'll still be pulling for my hometown boys in Indy, but with Manning joining the Mile High club, I'm going to be sporting some orange with my blue.

So, I told iTunes to run and play the other day and shuffle came up with a goodie. (Well, several, but this entry is about one in particular.) The song was Electric Head by Rob Zombie. Now, I've mentioned Sin Aesthesia before on this blog. It's the performance troupe that I co-founded. For one of our shows, we used an edited version of this song as our opener. The show was in 2008. We had a very limited budget, handmade/thrift store costumes and a rickety stage. And yet, when I hear that song, I see us as we were meant to be. Colors so vibrant you can taste them. Fierce dancers with swishing skirts and jingling belts. Shadows flickering from fire poi. My own little circus come to life. Strobe lights, absinthe addicts, circus freaks. Insanity and beauty fused together in a high speed collision. I see it all so vividly in my head and wish it could have been. I wish you could see it. I wish so badly that you could experience the way it is in my mind.  That's part of why I write. But there are things you'll never know and I'm alone with those visions.

I saw a pink Smart Car today. These things already look like toys, but when you paint one pink it looks like it should be pulling into Greenpeace Barbie's Malibu Dream Yurt. Speaking of girly things, today someone on Facebook posted a picture of a dress so stunning, so me, that I cannot stop staring at it. I have all sorts of fantasies. One where I'm on the red carpet at the Oscars, celebrating my nomination (and eventual win) of Best Adapted Screenplay. In another I'm just spinning endlessly through a field of daisies. Barefoot of course. Oh, I want this dress.