I used to have long, thick hair (a foot or more below my shoulders) that was the envy of every woman in the room. Straight, but not too straight, full of body and shine. Wavy without being frizzy. It was usually the first thing guys noticed about me, and the most common topic for hit lines: “Hey, can I touch your hair?”
Well, suffice it to say that was more than a few years ago—during my high school and college years to be exact. I’ll let you do the math.
The first time I considered cutting it was during a sitting for my high school graduation photos. I mentioned to the photographer that perhaps I should wait, come back after I’d gotten a haircut. He stared at me as if I’d slapped him. “Haircut? Are you crazy? Why in the world would you want to cut such beautiful hair?”
I let him take the photos that day. And I changed my mind about the haircut. Why eliminate one of my best assets as I headed into my senior year?
That asset snared me an impressive boyfriend for most of that year (I’ll call him Jerry). Jerry was a member of the cool crowd, a handsome, charming fellow with a reputation for fun. And, best of all, he was an older guy—already graduated and working full time. Jerry didn’t suit my personality very well, at the least the personality I’d had for most of my high school years (i.e. shy, quiet, studious). But what the hell. Just knowing I was dating Jerry caused my classmates to totally reevaluate their opinions of me. Suddenly I was complimented on my clothes every day by cheerleaders who had never spoken to me. I was encouraged to attend after school events I had previously avoided like the plague. And, most amazing of all, I was invited to go with the extremely cool crowd to a Rolling Stones concert (their “farewell tour” at the time, ha ha). I was very flattered of course. But I ended up turning down the invite because, as fate would have it, it happened to be on the same night that I had a ticket to see Elvis in concert.
What is the point of my topic today? What could it possibly have to do with writing?
Well, here’s the thing: Last week I went to my hairdresser, Judy, for a cut. Due to the holidays and my daughter’s wedding, two months had elapsed since my last visit. My hair was shaggy, too long, and the ends were flipping up and out—a look I totally despise. (I loved the old Mary Tyler Moore show, but oh dear Lord, that awful flip!) The first thing Judy mentioned was how well she thought my hair had grown out. In other words, she liked the longer hairstyle.
I respect Judy and her opinion. She’s very good at what she does. But in this instance, I made it clear I disagreed. I came home with my hair as short as it’s been since last summer, and I am once again a happy camper. Now I can get up in the morning, shower, run a comb through my hair, blow dry for five minutes, and get on with my day. That routine will hold for the next six weeks, after which I’ll return to Judy for another cut.
As writers, we all are pressed for time. My hair, pretty as others seem to think it is, is a 40-minute job to dry and style when it’s below shoulder length. And if I don’t do it every day, it looks like I spent the previous night on the street. Writing is about making choices, establishing priorities. Short hair is just one of the choices I have embraced in order to free up more time to write. I could list another dozen or so, but you get the point. At least I hope you do.