WFMAD Day 20 – in ink

I had a first yesterday; an email from a reader who said she was going to have "speak" (as in the title of my book that holds a lot of meaning for her) turned into a tattoo. She’s thinking of putting it on her neck.

Someone on Twitter asked me what I felt about that. Twitter is a great place for gut responses. I wrote: "Good chills. "Thank you, universe" chills. Humble chills."

There are layers, dermatological and metaphorical, to the words that we inscribe in our skin.

I have the first word of Beowulf inked (in Anglo-Saxon) just below my right hand.

There are volumes and libraries and bookstores of people out there who put their story into their skin. I think of many of their tattoos as short, epic poetry; the Song of Their Self. I know mine is.

For the record I spent about 5 minutes in the garden yesterday, picking tomatoes. In my defense, I did an absurd amount of writing and had to have my sore fingers pried from the keyboard by my BH rather late.

And I’m ready to go at it agin. You?


Today’s advice: "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."  E.L. Doctorow


Today’s prompt: Your character steps into a locker room or bathroom, or a dressing room and sees someone she knows without any clothes on. The nakedness does not shock her. It’s the tattoo. Describe the location, the person, and give the story behind the tattoo.

OR – after ______________ (insert significant incident here) your character steps into a tattoo parlor and puts her cash on the counter. What ink does she want, where does she want it, and why?

OR – If I gave you a magic cream that would cause your dream tattoo to beshielded from the eyes of people who would make your life miserable if they saw it…. what would you have inked. Why?

Extra bonus points: Go get that tattoo. Life is short.


12 Replies to “WFMAD Day 20 – in ink”

  1. Yes, hi! I was the one who asked how you felt about this, if the chills were good ones or bad ones. I was happy with your response (and of course remembered AFTER the fact that you had a Beowulf tatt!). I am planning to get a literary tatt myself, so can understand the compulsion this person had to get Speak tattooed onto themselves.

    Perhaps you might be interested in this site: Chock full of literary tattoos, and the range of words people find inspiring is just incredible.


    (Maple Snow/Maple Dust report: We get frost lately. I bet if I collected that I could get enough to make a maple syrup dessert. I may try!)

  2. Yep, contrariwise is the link I posted in the 5th graf above – I love that site.

    Enjoy your frost and thanks for that great Twitter questions yesterday! It helped be examine how I felt about a couple of things – most appreciated.

  3. What ho, yo, and so, I’m going to have to start saving the links you post for later or I’ll never get back to the keyboard.

    Checked out your twitters, too, and saw all the drama:

    Woke up at 4am and realized I must get rid of the first 60 pages of the book I’m working on. And then change everything else. Crap.

    That’d be a great chapter title for your book on writing. Or maybe a tattoo…

  4. I feel your pain. That’s what I am doing this month; throwing out about 100 pages and beginning all over again. But I had to write those pages to get a better feel for the characters, so it’s all good.

    Mayb we should call the first draft the Craptascular Draft.

  5. That’s wonderful – Go you for hitting someone that hard and having such an impact on her.

    As for going out and getting it – I did that earlier this year. =) I have a quote from “Little, Big” on my back. Okay, technically, the words came from a song, but I first read them in “Little, Big.”

  6. Craptascular it is. It actually reminds me of something Philip Roth said in a documentary – that he often writes a hundred pages before he finds the first sentence. I thought he was exaggerating at the time, but time has proven him right.

    Google, google… Here he is saying much the same to the NYT:

    My own way seems to be to write six months of trash and then to give up in despair, filing away a hundred pages or so that I can’t stand, to find ten pages or so that are actually alive, and then to try to figure out what it is that’s going on there that makes for the life, and then to run with that.

  7. It occurs to me that having “Hwaet” as a tattoo is rather akin to having “Speak” as a tattoo. (Because telling others to listen in that particular way only makes sense if one has decided to speak, maybe …)

  8. I waited twelve years to get mine but I’m soooooo glad I did it. (I like to tell my students I have Shakespeare’s complete works on my body; actually it’s the alphabet, plus some decorative flourishes.)

  9. I haven’t quite decided on the tattoo I want, or where I want it, but I do have some idea. I want something to do with a moon, because of the book Eating in the Light of the Moon which really changed my perspective on food (and still does, when I go to it for inspiration). I’m taking my time deciding, because I want it to be right.

    I also kind of want to get something from the Gashlycrumb Tinies tattooed somewhere on my body, just because Edward Gorey is so awesome.

    Had bad writer’s block yesterday, although I forced myself to eke out some words. I’m hoping today will be smoother. And I sympathise with the throwing away pages–my characters have come through loud and clear to declare that the story belongs to only two of the original five. So, my rewrite (in progress) must once again be rewritten. But I think it will finally be right(er).

  10. Got my tattoo. It represents my experience in Italy, my two closest friends, and myself. It’s just three curves and three dots, but it speaks to me.

  11. I currently have five and counting. Each of my tattoos holds meaning for me, and seems to gain more meaning the longer it is a part of me.

    Tattoos are so enormously personal. It’s tough sometimes when people ask me why I have a stylized heart inked on the inside of my left wrist, or pink roses on my right shoulder, or the incredible, realistic lion on my right calf. The lion, by the way, is the NYPL lion 🙂

  12. My literary tattoo is the Tenniel illustration of Alice, from the “scene” where she’s standing in front of a tree, looking up at the Cheshire Cat. She’s on my left forearm, underside. Next tattoo planned is the word “speak” in cursive on my left wrist, just above Alice. Literary tattoos are awesome.

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