Not too long ago, I discovered the very cool site The Word Made Flesh. It’s all about literary tattoos. (And thankfully not a "Twilight" one in the bunch!) Books and words fascinate me and because I’m also into tattoos, it shouldn’t come to a big surprise that I have a literary tattoo of my own.
My wrist tattoo (above) is my only visible ink. It means a lot because it’s just for me. It's the one I read and look at every day. It’s taken from a Paul Simon lyric. I’ve been a huge Paul Simon fan since I was little girl. (I have an early memory of dancing around my living room to Simon and Garfunkel's “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”) And his songwriting has had a powerful influence on me as a writer. I think it was the first time I realized how words connect us all. One of my prized possessions is a book of his lyrics that my mother bought me.
The full line is from the song “Hurricane Eye” off the album You’re the One. It goes:
You want to be a writer
But you don’t know how or when
Find a quiet place,
Use a humble pen
When I first got the tattoo (a couple of years ago) someone asked me what it meant. I told her the “quiet place” part was easy. It’s about finding that quiet place in your own head to be still and let the words come.
The “humble pen” part took a me a little longer to understand and articulate. But I've discovered that, for me, it means we must do and give our work away without expecting anything in return. That can be a tough, tough thing. After all, writers write to be published. At least I do most of the time. I want that publishing contract. I want the validations that awards or having my books make lists gives me. There’s nothing wrong with wanting those things, but I can’t write *expecting* them or thinking that I deserve them simply because I showed up and did the work. My humble pen must write and simply hope that somewhere out there, I’m connecting with another soul.
I think that’s what a writer does best.