At the graduate banquet, where all the new MFAs have a chance to read from their work and make a few statements, I joked that going through the writing program was a little like being the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. You make new friends, have adventures, dance and sing with people who are imaginatively dressed, put up with flying monkeys (mostly dispatched from the state capitol), and finally, some guy gives you a piece of paper that says you can do the thing you’ve been doing for the past three years.
For me, that piece of paper wasn’t quite enough. I wanted another marker, and it seemed like a tattoo was the way to go. For one thing, it seems like a very New Orleans thing to do, and the city has seeped into my soul in a number of ways. Second, I could choose an image that matched my journey as a writer.
Now a quill pen might be a bit of a cliché, but I don’t mind, and I found an artist I liked and asked him not to go for realism, but to draw on Viking/Celtic tracery for the feather design.
For me, there’s something very satisfying about having a physical marker of this time I’ve passed through. I know what it has meant to me internally, and I wanted that to be reflected. Yes, I’ve got a degree, but that’s kind of abstract. This is more visceral. Maybe it reflects a bit of insecurity, maybe I need reassurance that I’m really a playwright. That’s OK, too. It doesn’t matter if I’m not always sure of myself. What matters is that I stay true to this path, and this bit of ink will be a personal touchstone.