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.