Hair

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She twirled a long brown tress through her fingers, absent-mindedly, flicking through out of date, wrinkled magazines; gossip rags where it all came down to what you look like.  She’d tried not to think about today, it’d been gnawing at the bottom of her stomach for weeks, ever since she’d made the big announcement, spur of the moment.  She’d been riding this wave of excitement, everyone cheering her on, but then there was the reality of the future.

The hairdresser called her, she baulked but went anyway.  It was too late to change her mind anyway.  She sat down, kept her eyes low, refusing to look in the mirror.  Cameras snapped. She knew that she only had to say one small word and it wouldn’t happen.  She said nothing.  The hairdresser said nothing.

But the hairdresser knew why she was here.  A bright spark of flash from a camera.  The hairdresser leant forward with the scissors.  Snip, snip.  Methodical.  The long locks fell to the floor.

She wanted to cry, felt as if she was losing something.  A crown of glory.  She steeled herself, she couldn’t cry with so many watching and when it was so important, so positive.  Images from fairy tales flashed through her mind, Rapunzel, wretched Rapunzel wouldn’t go away.  Still snip, snip, snip, snip.

The hairdresser brought out the trimmer.  Even deeper breath.  It was too late now anyway, it was all on the floor.  People had clapped when the last strand hit the floor, someone squeezed her hand.  She didn’t want to look.

The machine whirred and came in close.  She wanted to scream so she gripped the arms of the chair, white knuckled.  Her eyes still down.

It was worth it, she kept telling herself, every piece of hair on the floor around her was worth so much.  Money for charity, money for hope.  And best of all, solidarity.  When she returned to the hospital and took their hand, she knew she’d see pride.  After all, all she was losing was her hair, something that was allowed to grow back.  It could be something far worse.

A cheer went up.  The machine stopped.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

We cut it, curl it, straighten it, color it, grow it out, despair over it. It can ruin our entire day or make us feel sexy or powerful or an entire spectrum of emotion.

It’s our hair.

We make judgments about mullets and comb-overs and bowl cuts. We envy thick, luscious locks. Or wildly hued ones.

Hair says a lot about us. About who we are or who we want to be, or maybe just who our friends are.

This week we’d like you to write a piece about hair. It can be about you or one of your characters where hair figures prominently. Don’t just describe it. Use it as a vehicle to tell us something about your character, a situation, you and your life.

The word count was 300, I made 358.  I’m always over!  Any suggestions to tame the wordiness?!

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30 thoughts on “Hair

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  2. Great subject and character for a hair piece. We are attatched to our tresses. I agree with Galit about reading your piece aloud. I usually make first edits by reading in my head, but final edits after reading aloud as that’s when I really hear what isn’t flowing quite right. :>

  3. “…ever since she’d made the big announcement, spur of the moment. She’d been riding this wave of excitement, everyone cheering her on, but then there was the reality of the future.”

    Oh yes — NOW was the reality.

    It’s hard to say so much in so few words, but you’ve done it and still left enough out to make us intrigued. I really liked this piece.
    L

  4. Pamela D Hart

    This is very poignant. We are so attached to our hair. It is, as you eloquently described a crown of glory, and it’s very heartfelt how you describe your character realizing it could be so much worse.

    You asked for “feedback”. I agree with Galit. Reading your story out loud really helps!

    This paragraph:

    The hairdresser called her, she baulked but went anyway. It was too late to change her mind anyway. She sat down, kept her eyes low, refusing to look in the mirror. Cameras snapped. She knew that she only had to say one small word and it wouldn’t happen. She said nothing. The hairdresser said nothing.

    The striked-out sentence above contradicts She knew she only had to say one small word and it wouldn’t happen.

    Keep up the great work! I think I might ask for feedback on my work–goodness, am I that brave?! ;-)

    • Pamela D Hart

      Okay, let me try this again. Seems the html codes didn’t work!

      This paragraph:

      The hairdresser called her, she baulked but went anyway. She sat down, kept her eyes low, refusing to look in the mirror. Cameras snapped. She knew she only had to say one small word and it wouldn’t happen. She said nothing.

      Rewrite as:

      The hairdresser called her, she baulked but went anyway. She sat down, kept her eyes low, refusing to look in the mirror. Cameras snapped. She knew she only had to say one small word and it wouldn’t happen. She said nothing.

  5. Great job! I remember being upset when I cut my long hair for the first time as a teen. You got such great editing suggestions in the comments–very helpful to me, too.

  6. I love this story and how very much you showed with one moment and one gesture.

    I also love that you asked for editing feedback! I used to struggle with this A LOT, too.

    Cheryl once advised cutting your first line. That works really well. Words like “that” and “had” are easy cuts as well.

    After that, read your story out loud and cut anything that edges wrong in your ears. Do it quickly- like a bandaid.

    I’ve found that sticking to the word count strengthens my writing by a lot. You can do it!!

    And last, but not least, you’ve created a lovely moving moment and character here. Her essence will stand strong without those 58 words- promise! Great job!! :)

  7. This is great. I also had to trim (ha!) about 60 words out of my piece to fit in the limit. I did many of the things Angela suggested – looking at what was integral to the story and eliminating the rest. I took out paragraphs and read the story again, then put a different, shorter paragraph in … it’s amazing how long it can take to write a 300-word piece!

    I read a quote by Blaise Pascal. “I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I didn’t have time to write a short one.” Editing and word trimming are time intensive, indeed. I wonder if sitting on it overnight and going through with a fine-toothed comb in the morning would help?

    Regardless, this is a great piece. The emotion and the anticipation is strong and I like the positive atmosphere you put her in. Well done!

  8. This left me with tears. What an awesome gesture. Even on days when I hate my hair, I should be thankful I at least still have it. What a brave and selfless character you got here!

    “After all she was losing was her hair, something that was allowed to grow back. It could be something far worse.”

    Great writing!

  9. Since you asked for suggestions about wordiness, I’ll offer a couple. When you’re re-reading, try to figure out what is integral to your story. What can you lose without losing the emotional impact?

    For example, I think you could easily cut “The hairdresser said nothing.”

    Or this paragraph:
    She wanted to cry, felt as if she was losing something. A crown of glory. She steeled herself, she couldn’t cry with so many watching and when it was so important, so positive. Images from fairy tales flashed through her mind, Rapunzel, wretched Rapunzel wouldn’t go away. Still snip, snip, snip, snip.

    I think you could cut “with so many watching and when it was so important, so positive.” Your last paragraph talks about the good that’s coming from the haircut. You don’t need it in both places.

    Those are just a couple of things, and I think everyone would have different opinions about what’s “crucial” and what’s not.

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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