Thursday, June 13, 2013

Is That a Cowlick In Your Bangs Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

When I was a kid, my hair drove my mother crazy. My red-headed sister had masses of curls; my baby sister had ringlets. Me, I had thick, wavy, unmanageable hair only controlled by braids. On the right side of my hairline I have a cowlick. As a result, I have always worn bangs to hide it. Back in the '50's they were the Mamie Eisenhower version (look it up on Wikipedia). Hideous.

I've grown into my cowlick. I don't like the term (couldn't it be a pony lick?) but I do relish knowing that one part of me refuses to be tamed. Forget trendy hairstyles, the cowlick dictates how my hair is worn.

Over the years, I've learned to embrace my imperfections. What others see as flaws, I view as my own uniqueness. Yes, I'm blind as a bat, but when Gloria Steinem rocked aviators, glasses became “cool.” Eyewear was suddenly a feminist statement.

I've never been in style. I was the girl who read Tolstoy in studyhall FOR FUN. I suppose I was a nerd. Never went to the prom but was the editor of the school paper. When I was 30 and working at the sheriff's department, a young man of 18 told me I was the coolest girl he'd ever met. I married him.

Now, turning 62 on June 14th, I love my quirks. I have fewer filters when I talk, I don't worry about how I'm perceived. I bite my nails like I did when I was five, but I save a lot of money on manicures. I wear what's fun, even if it isn't comfortable. I like bright coral lipstick and glittery purple eyeshadow. To me, they go well together. Nobody dares to scold a senior citizen.

I'm also able to be more honest in my writing. When authors say we cut a vein and bleed all over the page, we're are talking about unveiling the parts of ourselves that are difficult to face. I'm not talking about tossing all the angst on the computer screen—save that for your journal. I don't like it when a novel becomes a soapbox or a way to address the wrongs done to you in life. Get over it. Self-indulgence only entertains one person, and that would be you.

Readers can feel the ring of truth. It resonates in them, makes them feel intimate with the author. They can also tell if their emotions are being manipulated. When what I'm writing makes me uncomfortable, I know I'm on the right track. Although I might want to turn away from the train of thought, that's all the more reason to plow ahead. I may not like exposing myself to the world, but I'll take responsibility for it.

In my first book, “Fools Rush In,” I wanted readers to know that drug dealers have their justifications for their criminal activities. I knew this from working with an undercover narcotics team and actually having to deal with a part of society most people would avoid. I didn't need the reader to like the bad guys, but I forced them to see their side of things. In the sequel, “Where Angels Fear,” I stood by my belief that adults are free to choose their sexual activities, whether I approve or not. As an added bonus, the socialist in me reared its head when I realized I don't really like rich people. I make them suffer.

In my third book, “A Snitch In Time,” I'm facing the fact that I don't make a very good friend. I have terrific, supportive friends surrounding me. Do I reciprocate? Not nearly enough. So, I'm punishing my protagonist Christy by confronting her on this score. She takes too much for granted until it's gone. Oh yeah, and there are several murders along the way. And astrology.


Like my books, I'm a work in progress. I don't have all the answers, but I find the questions intriguing. I'm secure enough to come clean and trust readers to understand. Maybe even relate. Because, you see, I have this cowlick that just won't behave. I kind of like it that way.    

26 comments:

Paula Petty said...

I agree, Sunny. Dress the way you want. I am a purple and coral fan, too. In my writing I try to write the book I want to write and tell the story that I want to tell using life lessons. I catch myself rehashing things that happen to me that are out of character for people in my story. I am doing better, hopefully. Thanks for the great post and Happy Birthday!

Rob Wylie said...

Very insightful, Sunny.

I often find, and sometimes become disturbed by the fact that my writing will often expose my own quirks, insecurities, and fears that I didn't even know I had. Often this happens through a character I'm writing, that is supposed to me nothing like me at all, but turns out to be just another aspect of who I am. After all, aren't all of our characters just reflections of ourselves?

Augie said...

Hey Sunny, I'm looking forward to reading a 'Snitch in Time.' You keep your readers (and followers) on our toes trying to see over the fence and the view is pretty great. augie

JasonHunt said...

I have just added a Sunny Frazier quotation to the pile of 3x5 cards containing my personal favorite quotations: "Like my books, I'm a work in progress." How true that is for all of us! Other writers and luminaries whose quotations grace my pile of index cards include Lao Tzu, Buddha, Homer, Shakespeare, Jesus, Hemingway, Faulkner, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Dirty Harry and Don Corleone. You are in good company, Sunny! As always, thank you for sharing your insight.

Shalanna said...

Nonconformists unite! (LOL) (Because it's the last thing we want to do!)

"I don't have all the answers, but I find the questions intriguing." This sums up the reason that a lot of us write. How do we know what we think until we explore it by writing about it? Sometimes that's in an essay, but other times it's in fiction, with the characters coming out of the universal archetypes and acting out some of the dilemmas we encounter in life.

Some cool insights. Thanks!

Melodie Campbell said...

Wow. I love this post, Sunny. Basically learning about yourself through the scenes you write...even if they make you uncomfortable. I'll be looking back over my five books to review what they say about my own fears and foibles.

Dac said...

Cowlick? As a child I had a head full of them. My parents just gave up on combing my hair. Now, I'd like to have some of it back...

BTW my childhood nickname was "Sonny."

Patricia Gligor said...

Sunny,
I don't like to be around people who "talk out of both sides of their mouth" nor do I like people who seem to think they're better than anyone else. I prefer to associate with direct, honest people who aren't afraid to be themselves. I've always thought of you as one of those people. You say what you mean and you mean what you say. Cowlick and all!

jrlindermuth said...

Good advice for all of us to follow. If you can't be true to yourself in life or writing, you become a hypocrite. And who wants to be part of that tribe?

Velda Brotherton said...

Good morning Sunny, Just as I was thinking of having the bags under my eyes removed, you come along and tell me, in essence, I can leave them alone cause they're part of me now. If gone, I might not be the same person.
Nice post and I love the title.

Charles Gramlich said...

I grew my hair long to cover my huge ears and help offset my chipmunk cheeks. But Tolstoy in study hall!? You were a nerd. :)

Elaine Faber said...

Most everyone in my crowd is either writing 'Christian fiction' or 'thriller or dark mystery' and here I am writing about a cat! Some days I feel very alone and wonder if I'm on the wrong track. Now you've said being who I am is okay and what we write reflects who we are!Thanks for justification to 'keep on keeping on' even if I feel out of step with those around me.Good post.

Lesley Diehl said...

I had those awful bangs too, but have made my cowlick work for me by calling it a part. Like you, I hope I'm making my nature work for me by writing about family issues because they come straight out of my past. Of course I dress them up with humor.

Theresa Varela said...

Your personality really came through with this one, Sunny. Your author self is authentic- the genuine article- just as you are. I appreciate that. Keep them coming...

Sunny Frazier said...

I know at the start of the essay you were all wondering "Where the hell is she going with this??" But, I always have a point. You may have to work to get to it, but looks like you all "got" it.

Velda, keep those bags. They aren't baggage. Elaine, find those other cat-writing authors. Lillian Jackson Braun "Cat Who" books started me reading mysteries. Yes Charles, I guess I was a nerd, but nerds win in the end. John, it's much easier being a hypocrite to please others. But, that's not our role. Patricia, sometimes people wish I weren't so blunt. Go figure.

Jason, here's a quote from me that I'm quite fond of: "A Writer Reinvents the Truth." That was my scrolling screen saver for a long time.

Rob, you can't fool your fingers. They are going to call you out even when you scream "STOP!" A real writer just has to go there. A hack never knows there's a there there.

marja said...

I appreciate your honesty, Sunny. Too few people will admit to a cow lick or any other issue. (I have one, too, and it looks like a bald spot on the back of my head. Hard to cover up.) I also appreciate your humor, and the hard work it seems like you put into everything you do. Lastly, I appreciate your words of wisdom, and you always seem to have a few to offer.
Marja McGraw

Amy Reade said...

Hi, Sunny,

I love your honesty! The people who give the straight talk are the ones I appreciate most. And there's a healthy dose of humor there, too, so it doesn't get too heavy. Thanks for the post!

Amy

Stephen L. Brayton said...

Yep, I had a cowlick as a kid. Now that my hair is shorter (and less on top and the back) it tends to stand up more often and less able to be persuaded to stay down.

C.L. Swinney said...

Be you and the rest of the people can get on board or move along! Love that you are the way you are. Great blog! Thanks for sharing.

Julie Luek said...

Life seems to be a constant learning curve and sometimes that includes learning from mistakes (it's much more fun to learn from our triumphs!). I'm almost 49, but I hope that learning and growing continues in the decades to come.

Eileen Obser said...

Happy Birthday, Sunny! It takes decades for us to become accepting of the flaws in our looks, our personalities, our communication skills. But it does happen: we accept ourselves finally. With luck, this acceptance carries over into our writing. Thanks for your wise words and for the humor you use to get them across to us.

Virginia Loer said...

Ha, ha. I love the way you liken the two ideas--embracing of the cowlick just like the process of becoming more and more comfortable in your own skin.

Radine Trees Nehring said...

Great stuff, Sunny.

Liane Spicer said...

Happy birthday, Sunny!

I like people who are forthright, even blunt, because I know where I am with them. You're one of those. Keep on doing you, in RL and on the page!

John Addiego said...

I must agree with the others here that your honesty is engaging. Having just turned 62 also, it seems like self consciousness is less and less of an issue, but especially as pertains to writing, those honest, quirky things are what make us want to read on. Thanks, Sunny!

Joyce A. said...

It seems as if I expose myself not only to others but also to myself as I write. Thank you for the entertaining and insightful post.