I came home last week to an impromptu tattoo shop set up in the back lane behind my house. The tattoo artist was ingeniously using my neighbour’s parking plug to power her tools, and charge her phone. I had the good fortune of witnessing her finishing up a tattoo. “Strenth” was inked onto the wrist of a willing and seemingly oblivious candidate.

Between the tattoo shop and the misspelled tattoo- all of it got me thinking about the whole idea of publishing…whether it’s on your body, or it’s your writing. It’s there forever. Right, Johnny Depp? Wino Forever.

If you’re going to unleash something onto your body, or out into the world it should be poignant, and at the very least it should be spelled correctly. I’ve published some essays and articles over the years that I wish maybe I hadn’t. Heck, some examples can be found right here on this blog – see Winter Vagina. (My employer was none too pleased about that one.)

But then again, all of the mishaps and misakes make the world kind of an interesting place. A misspelled tattoo was what inspired me to write this blog in the first place. Does it really matter if strength is spelled wrong? That girl got a tattoo (and hopefully contracted nothing else) in possibly the most unique tattoo parlour in Winnipeg.

I release a fair bit of ink into the world; maybe it's time release some onto my body. I’m not concerned about altering my body- I get piercings when I finish manuscripts, but most people will never see them so where’s the fun in that?

The thing that has always kind of freaked me out about tattoos is that you are effectively the human canvas, and someone else gets to be the artist. When you write, you are the artist; you have total control over what goes onto that page. If you publish “strenth”, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Let's assume I can find the Hemingway of tattoo-ery and trust my neck to him.

The next question…what to put on that flesh canvas? The blank body is as daunting as the blank page, but I suspect for me, like writing,  it'll become compulsive and addictive, and there is no going back.

My primary impetus for a tatoo is to celebrate the written word; first lines from my books seem like a fun and poignant choice for a tattoo. Let’s see, the first line of The Prairie Bridesmaid, um, err – I wrote the book and I can’t remember the first line, and I’m too lazy to go downstairs, locate a book, and find out what it is – so maybe I shouldn’t ink it across my belly. Perhaps the first line of Push, my current novel – I’m not’a fuckin’package y’cunt.  

Hmmm, where on my body should I put that? I should write more tattoo-friendly opeing lines. 

Some examples of GREAT first lines of novels…that I did not write that could double as tattoos:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. (Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita)

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages shall show. (Charles Dickens, David Copperfield)

Most pretty girls have pretty ugly feet. (David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System

I would ink that last one onto my foot.

For the moment, since I don’t have any brilliant first lines of books that I am willing to ink onto myself, I’m taking suggestions. If I don’t get any, I think will just go with a picture of Buddy the Squirrel from The Prairie Bridesmaid. I think he’d look pretty cool perched on my upper back. 

And if the risk of contracting Hep C wasn't so high, I’d even get the girl from the back lane to do it. She can't misspell a picture.  It would make such a great story… and all she charges is ten bucks and some weed. What a deal!