Updated: Jun 18
A haircut. A simple and very straightforward action. But let’s be honest, it can change everything: starting with our looks, working all the way into our self-esteem and ending with the way people see us. Isn’t it amazing? Well, some people cut their hair a lot. Others spend their whole lives with the same shape and color. I, for instance, tend to cut my hair in order to “get rid” of a character that I have just created.
Yes, an author has more in common with an actor than it may seem. We create characters, we give them birth, voice, attitude, personality, feelings. We keep them from making good or bad actions. We inflict pain, sorrow, loss, confusion, regrets. Then we transform them by giving love, joy, pride, assurances. In other words, we play with their feelings – and that’s because we are God to those characters. The creator.
A TV series Bible is a document containing all the characters profiles, first season episodes’ summary, other seasons loglines; the theme, arc, locations, synopses. And who created the bible? The creator(s) of that TV show, the writer(s). I am not kidding, the bible is an industry term, used daily among executives, showrunners, screenwriters and so on.
Therefore we, writers, spend a lot of time with those characters. Not hours: months. Sometimes years. We have to get under their skins to talk and act for them. We have to dress them on our bodies. Multiple characters at a time, depending on the project. It is a very complex and exhausting process. It is also the most exciting thing one can do!
Literary Hair Cuts
Some of my character related looks over the years...
With literature, I find it much more intense. When I write a book, the main character becomes my best friend, my family, myself. I cannot count with an actor to give it a voice, or a whole art department to dress the part, create amazing hair and a make-up signature that will contribute to the small seed that I planted when I wrote the script and the bible. No. With the books, it is just me and the reader. I have to do the heavy lifting to explain all the characters traces.
Is it so intense, I always end up in the hospital having some kind of health problem. Almost like giving birth, in a way. And don’t get me wrong, I know many authors who write in hotel rooms for hours and can switch it off and go to the bar to get a drink. They know well how to separate themselves from their creations. I, on the other hand, get entangled and experience this on a deeper level.
With the years, I noticed that after I finish a book, or any kind of project that brought me extremely close to a character, I have the urge to cut and/or dye my hair. Curious, right? It is as if I have to get rid of a soul – almost like a snake that changes its skin, leaving it behind. So, I cut my hair. It is a ritual, and it changes my own perception of myself, in order to separate me from the character. Of course, this does not immediately cut our ties – it is just the beginning of the separation process.
I have cut and dyed my hair for those reasons so many times I cannot count. Interesting enough, although it is somehow an impulsive choice, I never really regret it. Because it is not really about how I look, but how I feel.
Cutting and dying takes time, but brought my smile back! I feel renewed!
Last week I decided to cut and dye my very long and unkept (due mostly to quarantine) locks. The cut was really to toss out traces of my recent past from my shoulder – they can weight much more than just thin hair. Past stuff can weight pounds! The dye was to eliminate a dear character who I finished creating, and therefore separate myself from my creation. I feel lighter and ready to regroup with myself, more centered, and look for new characters. And by the way, how do I look?