Like most introspective, creative people, my least favorite form of communication is the phone. Sure, I enjoyed it plenty when I was 15, but I’m now 15 x 2 so I would much rather just email you, thanks very much.
When I began writing Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook, it was fortuitous of me to do the project for National Novel Writing Month, because I was on a time crunch. It also meant I couldn’t procrastinate picking up the phone and calling people to talk about their tattoo stories, and ask them if they’d be willing to let me write about them for this project. That was nerve-wracking, since I basically felt like I was asking them to bear their souls to me just so I could write another book. Still, they were my friends, and I appreciated their candidness and willingness to let me write about it. I was on a 30-day time crunch, so I couldn’t let people equally un-phone-y as me dodge my calls for long.
After I finished the project and started sending it around to publishers, I got a bite. The publisher asked that we have a – you guessed it – phone call. It was a good phone call, I learned a lot about what they were willing to do for me, but in exchange, they wanted me to do something for them: get all the friends whose tattoos I wrote about to sign a legal release form saying that when the book makes it big they won’t sue me for royalties, and to get all the tattoo artists who drew their tattoos to give consent to use the images. Which meant… 23 phone calls.
I also now had to ask my friends to sign a legal document saying they wouldn’t sue me and yes, I felt like a total dick. Pretty much without exception, all of them were totally cool about it; after all, they are my friends and they were as excited as I was about the prospect of me getting a book deal. I also had to ask them who did their tattoos, and call up their shops, leave messages, call back the next day, leave another message, explain myself several times… lather, rinse, repeat.
But this is what you do when you want your book to see the light of day, so I’m gladly doing it. But you can bet your britches that my next book will not bear any likenesses or have overlapping copyright implications that make me chew my nails down! Also, I refuse to make any phone calls over this long holiday weekend, so if I am waiting on you for your signed release form or tattoo image consent, you get a whole 4 days of me not calling to remind you.