Monday, May 6, 2013


By Joan

Hair scraggly and dull, you slide into the swivel chair and peek at your neighbors, who, after all, are after the same thing you are. For a trim, highlighted locks or maybe an updated cut. A transformation.

While in the midst of lathering and snipping and drying, you hear lots of shop talk. Often you come out with a funny or tragic story, an appreciation for your own life, or some damn good advice.

I’ve been going to the same stylist since I moved to Texas. She’s changed salons a few times, but I follow her to wherever she hangs her blow dryer and flat iron. She does wonders with my crazy hair, is reliable and joyful, and tells engaging stories. After most visits, I leave the salon jaunty and uplifted, wishing my hair could look this good every day. 
Crazy 90s hair

While in her chair, I’ve heard about ghosts, heartbreaking events, hilarious holiday traditions and great one-liners. (“Anyone who uses the word suffer is mental.”)  

Today’s nugget from a neighboring stylist: 
“You can't please everyone. You have to remember who you are–don’t try to change for anyone.”

There’s a reason clichés are cliché. They are true. But sometimes I am brave and tell my stylist I want a new look.

As writers, what makes our writing unique is our own truth. We can’t change our past, can’t change our experiences that trickle into our own writing. But we can grow. We can change our future, if we are brave. 

As a writer still learning her craft, I know I must read widely and stretch out of my comfort zone. Susan recently introduced me to two brilliant authors: George Saunders and Cheryl Strayed. Talk about voice. Talk about change of style. I feel as though my hair has been tugged and braided and dyed platinum.

In the hands of a masterful author, your mind can be transformed just as an accomplished stylist would transform your hair. You learn truths and heartache, stretch and question your world view. Leave the chair with a new point of view.

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