Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Ink and What It Means To Me

Yesterday I got two new tattoos. This makes 12 or 13 total depending on how you count. Let's say 13. I like the idea of being on lucky number 13... Generally speaking, I get tattoos to celebrate major milestones or honor someone special to me. I have my cat's pawprint, a nurse in honor of my NICU nurse mom, a matching tattoo with my sister, another one with my best friend, one I got on a trip to Seattle with two of my closest girl friends who I regularly travel with and one for my favorite band, Nirvana. I have one tattoo celebrating each of my books and a matching tattoo I got with my husband on our first wedding anniversary. I also have the Latin word for 'breathe,' which is 'spirare' on my left wrist. I got that with my BFF (though hers' is in English) because we're both high-strung, workaholics (and I'm a total worrywart to boot) and we need that reminder.

At the time I got the 'spirare' tattoo, I thought it would be cool to get 'scribere,' Latin for 'write' on my right wrist (since that is the hand I write with.) But last January when I got 'spirare,' I was in the middle of my major crisis of faith about my writing career. I was doubting if I would ever be published again, if I deserved to call myself a writer anymore, or if I even wanted to be one.

I told myself that when I sold another book, I would get the 'scribere' tattoo along with a Sleater-Kinney quote that has been like my personal motto since I was sixteen years old when I put it in the introduction to the zine, Hospital Gown, that I created to work through the emotionally abusive relationship I'd recently come out of. The quote is "These words are all I am." Writing is my soul, my form of survival--at least I thought it was for most of my life, but again, last year, I was in doubt.

This (unfortunately) is not my round-about way of telling you that I sold another book, but I hope, no, I believe, I will sell another one soon. I finished revisions on The Grief Book on May 10th. They weren't major... I just had to cut about 15,000 words. That book just flowed out of me, though. I'm so proud of it, maybe even more proud than I was of BALLADS, which has always been the book of my heart. My agent took the book out on submission last Friday. I hope believe at least one editor will fall in love with it and want to publish it. But regardless, I'm proud. I know that at the core I will always be a writer. I have been all this time. Even if I move to Seattle and get a full time job in an office, I will continue to write things for Rookie, which is the magazine of my dreams and my heart, and is what helped remind me of who I am and why I write. (oooh, I really need a Rookie tattoo...)

I breathe and I write. These words ARE all I am. And dammit, I wrote and revised a book in 9 months time (whoa, literal book baby!), I powered through uncertainty, through depression, anxiety, and grief, some very fresh, some as old as my first book now, but still raw and painful at times. That was an accomplishment worth celebrating, so I did with tattoo number 12:

which matches this tattoo:

And tattoo number lucky 13:

which fits quite perfectly below this tattoo that I got for my first book and goes along with my Sleater-Kinney theme there. (I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is named for the Sleater-Kinney song, and the tattoo features the music for that song. Also "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" is on the same album as "Anonymous," the song my new quote comes from):

So here's to new ink, revived faith, and a book on submission that I hope believe you will get to read soon!