The wonderful Tagan Shepard is back. She appeared on I Heart Lesfic last year and you can find her post My Left Arm here.
Please welcome Tagan.
WRITTEN ON THE BODY
Back again. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since my first post on I Heart Lesfic and since my debut novel was released. Now it’s time for my second novel, Bird on a Wire, and I’m happy to be back.
Last time I was here, I talked about my sleeve tattoo. I mentioned the tattoo on my forearm and said it was a story for another time. Well, this is that time.
The story of my forearm piece starts on July 20th, 2008. That was the day my mother died. That’s a very bland announcement and I assure you it’s only bland thanks to the passage of a decade. At the time I was devastated. Altered on a molecular level. I still am, but I’ve learned to live with the alterations. Bend around the holes left by the passing of a woman who was larger than life for me.
My parents divorced and remarried when I was eight. I have four incredible parents, but I was closest to my mom. Even after I met and married my wife, my mom was one of the most important women in my life. All of that changed on a sweltering summer day. I became diminished in her absence.
Sorting through her effects after her death, going through the mundane chores of administering her estate, I found lots of little notes. Appointments written in calendars. A box full of old cards. A drawer full of handwritten letters. I looked at the loops and swirls of her handwriting and missed her with an ache in my very bones. It occurred to me that I would never see that handwriting again. No more birthday cards. No more letters. As a writer, I took that loss seriously. Words are oxygen to those of us who live by the pen and those words come to life through handwriting. It’s as individual as a fingerprint. I didn’t want to lose hers. Not hers and not those of the other people I love. I decided to keep their handwriting in a way I could never lose.
I cherry-picked words from the letters I found, copying them onto tracing paper and piecing them together. Then I gave my wife a sentence and asked her to write it out a dozen times. I did the same with my dad. I took them, a sentence each written in the hand of the people I love most, and had a man ink them into my skin. Onto my forearm where I can see them every day. Written on the body. Indelible.
Sometimes the death of a person we love makes us contemplate our own lives in a way we never have before. Dig for a deeper meaning we hadn’t searched for until that moment. My mother’s death brought into focus the things I wanted from my own life. The things I wanted to achieve. The things I wanted to leave behind.
A life worth living. The gift of a mother, used in a way to make a better world.
A heart worth loving. The gift only a beloved partner can offer.
A story worth telling. The gift of a father’s passion for knowledge translated into my own words.
Becoming a writer made my life worth living. The love I share with my wife made my heart worth loving. For me, for this moment, Bird on a Wire is my story worth telling. I share it with you now for myself and for my mother, that she is never forgotten.
BIRD ON A WIRE
After putting in her time playing bars, festivals and opening acts for bigger names, Robin Wren “Birdie” Scott has finally become a bona fide rock star with her latest album. Multiple Grammy nominations, legions of adoring fans and a hit single topping the charts, her career is exactly where she wants it to be. Her personal life, on the other hand, could use some work.
She’s always felt pulled in two. She’s famous, but she craves solitude. She was born a country girl, but she’s drawn to the vitality of city life. She adores her mother, but she can’t forgive her for the hurtful things she said when Birdie came out. She loves her wife, Della, but her marriage is not what it once was. All of her friendships have somehow turned into business relationships. Even the rush of performing has lost its luster.
When her sold-out tour is interrupted by the unexpected death of her mother, dropping everything and driving off into the mountains back to the small hometown she hasn’t visited in nearly two decades almost feels like a relief. Sorting out the conflicting emotions that come with losing her mother would be hard enough on its own. Add to that the reappearance of her childhood best friend and first love, Sara, and this trip home could be life changing in more ways than one.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Tagan Shepard has always spent quiet moments weaving stories in her head. It didn’t occur to her until recently to take the time to write them down. Now that she’s started, she can’t seem to stop. When not writing, she makes her living in a hospital laboratory.
She is a cardio junkie, history buff, and unrepentant nerd, happily wasting countless hours of her life on video games and science fiction/fantasy of every stripe. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her very patient wife and two rather surly cats.
Thanks so much for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend.