Making Myself a Charactered Piece

This is a guest post from Caleb J Ross, author of the chapbook Charactered Pieces: stories, as part of his ridiculously named Blog Orgy Tour. Visit his website for a full list of blog stops. Charactered Pieces: stories is currently available from OW Press (or Visit him at

Nik Korpon has tattoos. I do not. Based on this observation one could assume (likely, correctly) that Nik has lived a more eventful life than me. Tattoos—once a mark of individuality—their absence on a body has become more a statement than their presence. That statement regarding me: I don’t do much.

I think Nik and his canvassed body would agree that tattoos aren’t solely for social outsiders anymore. They have become a living road map of sorts, a declaration of history, of owning a specific time in the bearer’s life. Social outsider or no, we all hope to have a moment of import that warrants a tattoo-level reminder.

I’ve long thought about how I would break my tattoo-hymen, and have decided that no dot on the map is more worth marking that the publication of my first book. My book, a chapbook called Charactered Pieces, practically begs for such ceremony, as its central theme deals with just the sort of visual hiccup that are tattoos.

First, I want nothing too literal. I want intrigue from my audience, not a simple nod of recognition. Not the Tasmanian Devil, but a Rorschach version of the real devil, sort of thing. Second, I want to bypass any trends. In fifth grade, I would have killed for a Japanese symbol meaning “ninja.” I’d be embarrassed by that today (though truly, I still think it’s cool). Third, I don’t have much money.

So what would I get, should I get one? A single, thin, black rectangle:

This accommodates the first stipulation by being open to interpretation. To me, it would symbolize the spine or edge of my book. Perhaps as I get more books published, I’d get more bars on my arm. I don’t fear violating the second stipulation, as I doubt black bars will ever be all the rage. And for the money thing, I can’t imagine a cheaper design.

Maybe I’ll get it done at April 2010’s AWP Conference in Denver. Anyone willing to watch me cry? Contact me via my website below. Bring a camera.

Before I leave, let me bring you an apt installment of “Author Note on Story #3 (An Optimist is the Human Personification of Spring) In Hopes That You’ll Learn About Me Intellectually and Donate to My Pocket.” Apt, as this story contains images (tattoos are often images. Get it?):

Though I was familiar with the manipulation of text before Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, it was that book that made me aware of just how far text could go to tell a story. Forget the literal interpretation which has for so long constrained the word. House of Leaves showed that words could be looked at in the abstract. “An Optimist…” is my attempt to test the idea of textual metafiction. Integrating Chinese fortune cookie fortunes into the text to enhance the story, “An Optimist…” marks a proud accomplishment in terms of my writing ability. I definitely want to further explore the integration of text and art.

6 Responses to “Making Myself a Charactered Piece”

  1. […] might get a tattoo. Read about at Nik Korpon’s blog, you filthy, filthy […]

  2. Love this, all of this. How about the bar code to your book? I’ve always thought about a bar code, maybe for Transubstantiate. And sure, I’d pay a dollar to watch you get one.


  3. heh heh, “tattoo hymen.”

    Seriously, get one for each book you publish — this time, a diamond tattoo with a little charactered chip in one of its facets. In the future I could see a cauliflower ear, a fetus, a pill, and some drops of oil.

  4. Thanks for the great info, I will definitely be back!

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