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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bad Hair & Bad Writing

Packing for the upcoming trip has given me pause as to what to pack, what to leave, and I'm discovering that some of what hangs in my closet no longer represents who I am. To compound the confusion of coming to terms with the image I present to others, a tactless pal gave me a start a few days ago.

The friend I hadn't seen in a couple of years greeted me over coffee with this: What will you do when you go bald? Wear wigs or scarves?

Mind you, I'm (knock wood) no longer a cancer patient. My hairline is simply receding a bit! But this got me thinking...

How often do we let a bad hair day impact our writing? Me--never. It is what it is. I did let hair humility conquer me in 1st grade, but rarely since. I had long honey blonde hair at age 6, and my mother decided a shorter cut would be easier to manage. She sent me across the street to a neighbor lady. I walked home later sporting a "poodle" perm. The "stylist" had put my tresses into a tight ponytail, whacked it off behind the band, then gave me a perm so curly it hurt to touch it. I went home in tears, the aborted ponytail in my hands. Even my poor dad cried.

Ever since, I've not been a slave to anything hair other than color. Well-meaning friends gently suggest this cut or that. One friend even offered to pay for the cut and styling. To humor her, I went. Walked out looking like a 90's Tina Turner. She was thrilled. I wasn't. (In her defense, we all have gifts. My friend was a gorgeous black woman, a retired runway model, and she wanted to impart a bit of style to me.) I may have a terrific rapport and affinity for my AA friends, but their identity isn't mine. No matter how much I admire them, I cannot pull off their style or essence with panache. The only thing I can compare this to would be if I tried to imitate Stephen King's writing or that of Harper Lee.

I have a tad of obsessive compulsive disorder anyway. I don't need to muck up my life adding to the list. It's freaking HAIR. Love me, love my roots and the occasional ponytail. One of my few stubborn screw-yous to society. Also one of the reasons I prefer cremation--nobody staring down and wishing to God the mortician had done more with my hair. Send me out the way I entered--in my birthday suit, wrinkled as it may be, and not knowing a damn thing.

Think about it. Do you let society dictate how you look?

Do you allow anyone else to set the bar on your writing for you? Make you feel guilty if you don't write X number of pages per day--or have you question your hero's appearance or heroine's occupation? Of course not! That's part of your identity as a writer.

I say critique my story as *I* see it and either accept me as I am, or reject me--bad hair and all.

Authentic image and writing have to come from the soul. If I'm not authentic to myself, I don't see how others could possibly view my writing as anything but fitting a predesigned mold. False advertising.

The cool thing is that I'm constantly finding myself and reinventing my writing, so I'm never bored, and I rather like challenges. An inadvertent friends are likely to witness the outer transformation as the inner being changes and develops. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll reflect a better head of hair in their eyes. Or maybe I'll simply go bald and tattoo the noggin. Either way, like my writing, my appearance must be a reflection of how I feel, think, and see myself, not as how they see me or wish I was.



  1. Sunny, I love this post.

    All my life I've tried to do whatever will please those around us, but I refuse to do it any longer. I've become abrasive, and I do want to tone that down.

    Thanks for expressing yourself so well.

  2. Thank YOU, Sandy. Sorry I am responding late. Lex and I caught a cold between Hawaii and Australia. Plus we've had storms in Oz. I'm glad my words give some comfort and pause for reflection. That's what I am about these days. *smile*