Pain, Patience and OWWW CRAP OWWW


Today was the (quasi)final tattoo session for my Phreak Show character sleeve.

Here’s how things looked going into the session:

This project has taken precisely one year, 12 sessions, 36-ish hours in the chair, $#### (plus a trade of a mounted human skull fragment).

Out of the dozen sessions, this one, the background, was by far the worst. The needles pierced & chewed the entire length of my arm. The sheer amount of skin area made it rough. Pain. From wrist to shoulder. Front, back, sides. If my poor, fragile skin didn’t have ink yet, it got some.

Some owww-shit-owww sections got hit today. Hard.

You know that sliver of skin between your elbow bones? The one that twangs and hurts like mad when you bang it against a sadist object? The “funny bone” it’s called… Yeah. Not even close to funny. Like ridiculously not funny. When the artist was inking it, a nerve zinged all the way to my hand and made my pinkie & ring finger involuntarily twitch & jerk. This was weird. Painful & weird.

Another spot of excruciating pain: the underside of my arm, near my armpit. WOWZER. That amount of pain should be illegal. Prophetically, that’s where Niko the Prince of Torture is located. Haha, Nico. Ha. Ha.

At one point, after 2 hours of suckfest pain, my whole body was shaking. I tried to stop it, but it was doing that thing like when you’re shivering from the cold and can’t stop. I’m pretty sure my body was protesting, as loudly as it knew how, for me to stop traumatizing it in such an evil manner.

Joe, my tat artist, ripped the needles through my skin. “You sick of me yet?”

“Can’t.talk,” I squeezed through my chattering teeth. “Too.busy.screaming.inside.”

He laughed. I cried. (Almost). I tried to ascend to my happy place & soldiered on. Like a trooper and whatnot. I’d come too far to quit partway through the final tattoo. Even though it hurt like infiinte hell. <—possible exaggeration. Eventually, Joe stopped hammering my tender, Irish flesh. I shook off the grog & stood on quaking legs to check out his handiwork.

One final-final session is scheduled for May just to make sure everything looks crisp & ~finished~ after a few months. Perfection, ya know? That last-pass edit of compulsive tweaking. But it’s close enough to call this the final draft.

Phreak Show is officially  a “manuscript” and not a “book” at this point. Still, being the hopeful chap that I am, I may have already imagined myself at a signing, modeling the sleeve, readers hunting down their favorites on my arm, agreeing with the image or explaining how they pictured the characters differently.

Silly, right? Maybe narcissistic like, “Oh, hey, yeah, check out my rad tats!” Idk. Yeah. Whatevs.  I’m cool with that.

The concept, the characters, the finished story, a phenomenal agent for said story—even the sleeve itself—all started off as dreams. And those dreams, after much patience and owww-shit-owww pain, all came to pass.

And, optimistic, tatted writer-boy that I am, I know the day will come when I roll up my shirt sleeve with a smile to reveal the sleeve underneath.

“Oh yeah! I’d love to a pose for a pic with you, dear reader. But first, let’s put this temporary tat of Twiggy on you. Where do you want her?”

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Saturday Selfie for the Hell of It


Me, on a random Saturday, which is to say: a few minutes ago

Me, on a random Saturday, which is to say: a few minutes ago

Twitter’s such a jerk to me when it comes to uploading pics taken on my camera. I mean, I reduce the image size, scale it down, and everything. TO NO AVAIL.

I probably should look into some Twitpiccy thingamahooey or something. But who has time??? There are chapters to write! Novels to complete! COFFEE TO BUY AND THAT’S THE ONLY REASON I’M EVEN DRESSED RIGHT NOW

And why a selfie? IDK…because I rarely take them? Because I have a dumbphone not a smartphone? Because, have I mentioned, TWITTER HATES MY CAMERA?

So, for whatever spur-of-the-moment reason, a Saturday selfie. Which could be a weekly thing, but what would be the point? Well, keeping track of my everchanging coiffure perhaps. Or touring the loft/studio/storefront maybe.

Well, let’s point out some things with this here pic, at least. Hair: hastily bound topknot to wrangle the mess. Broken arm pose to show off the Phreak Show tats. Oh, and that’s my Astrobracelet on my wrist. (Which, were I savvy, I would have twisted so the pair of stars smiled at the camera.) Setting: ‘Living Room’ area of the loft. I’m chilling on this amazing highback Victorian sofa we recovered in cowhide with nailhead trim.

So there you have it! A — for whatever it’s worth — selfie. (Which also conveniently took care of my need for a blog post. Thanks, jerky Twitter!)

And now: To brave the always curiously gawking, midwest townsfolk in order to BUY SOME FLIPPIN COFFEE WHILE CLOTHED ON A SATURDAY.

Confession: I’m self-conscious of this post. Not b/c of the pic. I’m more than cool with that. But b/c there’s a cussword in the title. Being a “YA Author” with industry eyes on me, I worry about things like that. I actually just edited to  change “DAMN” to “FLIPPIN” in that last line. But the title stays. Is that a weird thing to be weirded out over?

Phreak Show Ink – Mantis & Lil Diva


Lil Diva & Her BFF Mantis

Mantis the Giantess & Lil Diva the Human Puppet

Weezie Williams & Lily White - BFFs

Lily White & Weezie Williams

Mantis & Lily 3

OH NO! Not only has it been 500 years since I posted (actually only like 2 weeks), but I’m also out of tat appointments for awhile.

This is a tragedy.

Still remaining:
– The name banner for Mantis & Lil Diva
– Jules a.k.a Shim the Gender Enigma
– Aaron James a.k.a. Gemini the Two-Headed Boy
– Background aether
– Touch-ups

My artist is booked forever in advance, but we’re squeezing more ink in when he gets cancelled appointments.
Which happen to fall on Saturdays…
If I’m also available…

Hopefully the phreak-sleeve will be completed & healed by summer? We’ll see if the planets align to make that happen.

In the meantime, I’m in the thick of hot and heavy edits on the manuscript.
Challenging, fun, brain-juggly (totally a word).
At this point, the hard work feels totally worth it. But then there’s the variable of feedback once the edits are submitted.

Once again, doing my part, but I guess I have to leave the outcome to celestial alignment, literary luck fairies, and the like.

UPDATE on the feedback: !!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 ALL CAPS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Phreak Show Ink – Douggie


Douggie as his show persona: Doug Doug the Dimwit

Douggie as his show persona: Doug Doug the Dimwit

Douglas Smalls

Douglas Smalls

Tattoo - Douggie 3

Douggie

Douggie! While a genius, Douggie has been labeled and mistreated simply because of his smarts. No worries, Douggie. I immortalized your Phreak Show persona for you.

You know how shallow some folks are. Now, they’ll never guess you’re intelligent as long as you keep quiet.

Phreak Show Ink – Twiggy


Twiggy

Twiggy the Blubber Girl

Twiggy - Wink, cupcake & all

Twiggy – Wink, cupcake & all

It took two weeks to get her image just right, but Twiggy [I feel] is gorgeous. I had a very strong concept in my mind. And, for some reason, I feel like I owe Twiggy a perfect execution of that vision. Don’t ask me why I feel so possessive of her. I just do, and can’t exactly explain it.

Right now, she and Jamie are battling for the top spot of Phavorite Phreak Tattoo.

Until now, the phreaks have been kind of scattered, spread in a pre-ordained layout to make room for them all. With the proximity of the images coming together, it’s actually starting to feel like the beginnings of a sleeve. Over the next couple weeks, the individuals will continue to interact with the ones who have come before them. The gaps will fill, the images will play off one another.

My experiments to either write or edit while getting inked? Both failed. Too much physical sensation to go to the mental place needed for those tasks. But I’ve found I can read easily enough [between conversations]. Last week, I just so happened to be reading a scene which talked about the three kinds of people who get tattoos. In my own words:
– One timers
– I have one and might get another
– The addicts

Wouldn’t say I’m an addict, but I’m definitely a fan of immortalizing ideas & images worth immortalizing.

Twiggy Excerpt

Twiggy was, as usual, sitting on her bed shoving food in her mouth. “How’d it go?” she asked.

I squeezed out my hair. “We damn near got struck by lightning.”

“I hate the thunder. And I eat when I’m scared. Want a chip?”

You eat all the time.

“I don’t think my stomach can handle food right now.”

I caught a whiff of pungent stank. Was it Twiggy’s rank chips? Oh gods. No. It was my skanky armpits, the oniony b.o. rejuvenated by the sweat and the rain. I really needed to slough off the week-old funk clinging to my crevices. I had my backpack, but my clothes and hygiene bag were still in my car. Miles away. Out of gas. But, damn, I needed to get clean. A saying I’d once heard—maybe at school, or online—flashed in my head. All things being equal, fat people use more soap.

“Do you have any soap?” I asked my hefty host.

She wrinkled her nose. “Well, yeah. Tons of it.”

“Can I borrow some?”

“For…?”

“The rain. I’m so in need of a shower. You don’t even want to know,” I said.

Twiggy pinched her nose closed. “Oh, I know,” she said with a smile. “We have showers, silly.” She brushed sour cream and onion crumbs off her boobs. “We may be phreaks, but we’re not slobs.”

Confession: I DO know why Twiggy’s image is even more important to me than the MC Tera’s or the love interest Niko’s. Many readers have identified with Twiggy’s struggle. I feel an obligation to them to get her right. Maybe obligation isn’t the right word. How about, I have the desire to do right by Twiggy and—by extension—to those who identify with her.

Phreak Show Ink – Millie


Millie  {a.k.a. Mama Snow}

Millie {a.k.a. Mama Snow}

Millie's stencil laid in
Millie’s stencil placement in relation to her phreaky friends
Tattoo - Millie 2

Millicent Cocteau – Mother of the Phreak Show

We had a little plot twist in the tattoo session today. I give Joe pretty free reign on creating the tat images. I start him off with source images & we discuss their physical & emotional characteristics & roles in the story. He then infuses his own style and artistry into the final tat.

Today’s plan was to immortalize Twiggy. But I have a VERY specific image in my melon of what I want her to look like. Thus, we’re taking more time to tweak her and get her just right.

So Millie moved up in the queue.

I have been challenging Joe with my tat requests. Jamie was his first one-eyed baby portrait. Millie was his first albino portrait. Obviously, she can’t be just pure white, so he had to work in slightly darker tones of pale peach and pale gray-blue. And white eyelashes? Also a challenge.

Some skin doesn’t take white ink very well, but mine rather enjoys and holds on to it. Even still, from a practical perspective for the artist, tinting/shading with mainly white is difficult. [SQUEAMISH ALERT] The blood mixes with the white, tinting it pink. Also, the inflamed & irritated skin makes it difficult to discern what is pink ink vs tender flesh.

Pro Tip: After soaking into the skin for 10 minutes, Lanacane spray reduces ALL the redness to show a true picture of the coloring.

Wow. Never would have guessed that one. But it totally worked & Joe was able to see the true coloration. The Lanacane also numbed Millie for the last 20 minutes as he finalized her. That was weird. Like, I couldn’t even feel the needle. AT ALL. Which seems like cheating and just…odd.

Millie is an albino. So she will be radiantly glowing on my skin. And part of how that will work is by hammering in a dark, contrasting background to push her forward. I have to wait for that…

Through this whole process of working towards a finished sleeve, SO MANY ANALOGIES for the writing process are pinging in my head. I’m scribbling them down. So, of course, once this is all completed, I will have that juicy overarching post to sum everything up.