Skip to content

A picture is worth… how many words can I fit on my wrist?

I’ve been wanting to get a new tattoo for a while now, and given that one of London’s coolest tattoo parlors is just down the road from me, I figure I’ll get it here, before I move back to the States.  It can be a reminder of the part of my life that contained the most change – good, bad, ugly, exciting, and stressful – thus far.

Only one problem: what to get?  I know where I want it (the inside of my left wrist), and I know I want it to be small, but I haven’t decided exactly what I want yet.  For a long time, I thought I wanted a simple shape, like an outline of a heart or something else elegant but slightly cheesy, to represent my relationship and everything it (and he) has meant to me without branding me with someone’s name for the rest of my life.

But then, before I could really settle, I started pinning.  Have you all heard of Pinterest?  Does it sound mildly interesting but you don’t understand the hype?  If you’re in this detached stage, I implore you: don’t sign up!  Pinterest will steal your life and torture your soul and make you question all your decisions and bemoan your lack of funds for the perfect house/outfit/vacation/kitchen.  Before I started a tattoo board on Pinterest, I had two main ideas, and now I’m lost in a flurry of amazing, bold, beautiful, meaningful inspirational images, all of which are already branded on someone else (by necessity, as these are photos of existing tattoos), which kind of ruins my desire for something unique.

But the other thing that cruising Pinterest has shown me is that tons of people have literary tattoos, that is, images or text from favorite books inked on their bodies forevermore.  Which is awesome and some of them are beautiful and most of them are meaningful, but it’s also eye-opening to see the words with which people choose to mark themselves.  For example, an extremely popular quote is this one, from the Harry Potter books:

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

Now that is a stunning quote.  I mean, I was (and am) a Harry Potter fan, and I’ve always said that J.K. Rowling is a better writer than I think she gets credit for in literary circles (same goes for Suzanne Collins), but that quote really sums up how thoughtful some writers can be, even those whose books are intended mostly as escapism and fun.  And it also makes me wonder whether the writers whose work is inked all over people’s bodies the world over (there are a few that come up a lot) even paused over those lines, whether they thought they might be quotable or if they maybe focused more on other lines, which later went largely unnoticed?

So in addition to putting pressure on my tattoo choice, this recent literary tattoo obsession also makes me feel terrified about my upcoming book.  Every time I see another fabulous quote from mainstream popular literature, I run through my favorite lines from my own book in my head, trying to find one that might be tattoo-worthy, and I always come up short.  Of course, I suspect I always will, because how pompous would I have to be to think my own writing was permanently quotable?  But still, I can’t help but wonder whether my book will stand up to the indelible-ink challenge.

There’s no way to predict how people will receive my book at all – sales, reviews, word-of-mouth popularity – so of course wondering about whether or not something I’ve written will ever be tattooed on someone’s skin is completely fruitless.  But I can’t help it; somehow I suppose I just needed to add that extra layer of pressure to the publication process!

I’ll know soon enough whether people like my book, though.  For now, I need to focus on my own tattoo, and settle my mind on what exactly it is I want, and for that, I should probably step away from the Pinterest…

Published inPersonalThe Process


  1. Hi Anne,
    Finished the book this morning! Loved it. I had a GB in July last year; i bloig about it and in a recent entry had talked about how i hadn’t really read many (or even any?!) accounts of GB/massive weight loss despite being a voracious reader. My boyfriend went out and got me your book and I got LOTS of identification! Although we’re different in many ways some of the similarities are remarkable. I lived in the USA for a while while i was a student (at UMass) so know all about dorm catering… I had a thiong with a girl called Bekka! And then i looked at this website and found out that you, too, like baking and tattoos! By the way i live practically next door to City University in a block next to the Peasant pub on St John Street. So lots of coincidences! Anyway I loved your book. If you feel like taking a look at my blog please do-although i suspect you might be sick of GB blogs by now?! I look forward to your next project! A book about living in London? Cultural differences between the UK and the USA?
    Best wishes

    • Anne Anne

      Hi Siobhan,

      I’m so glad you liked the book, and thank you so much for stopping by the blog and commenting! That’s amazing that you had so many similar experiences (those Beccas… irresistible!), and that you live so close by – I live up by the canal, just across City road! I’ll definitely have a look at your blog; I never get sick of reading about other people’s experiences with GB. I love the title already.

      As for the next project, I am indeed considering a book of essays about London from an American perspective, but it’ll have to wait until the weather gets better here… right now London and I are fighting, and I wouldn’t want to produce a book of cranky rants! I need some pints-and-scones-by-the-canal goodness to balance it out.

      Anne x

  2. oh and i loved the pinterest page of tattoos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *