I have been tasked by my editor, Barbara, to dig into my heroine’s emotions and pull out how she reacts during those moments when she’s alone with her thoughts. The exercise is designed to make her more real so readers can connect with her on a deeper level. I wrote her to be a strong woman when it comes to dealing with the issues and crises of life so she’s not the type to be victimized by troubles. She just deals with them and moves on. My job is to show how she does this.
Barbara instructed me to think about some ups and downs that I’ve had to deal with in the past thirty days and write about how I handled them. Based on my personality and what she’s learned about me over the past few weeks, she said I have a generous confidence programmed in my DNA that forces me to handle adversity almost immediately. I need to identify these low points and write about how I navigate my way through them. Define my process.
Once I get it on paper I’ll have a road map for my heroine to follow out of her low points. Sounds simple, but it wasn’t easy.
As the type-A, alpha female in my family, it’s my job to maintain a brave front so everyone else can fall apart around me. I don’t mind since I work and think better under pressure, but there are times when life is too much and I crack. That’s when I stop and retreat to my happy place, which is usually my bed, curled up in my fuzzy blanket watching an NCIS marathon on the USA Channel while drinking Pepsi and eating Cool Ranch Doritos.
Usually I can snap out of it in a couple of hours. Sometimes it takes an entire day of wallowing before I can face my challenge. There are also times when I need to call on the Lord for strength because I am beat down past recovering on my own.
It’s funny how this assignment came at a time in my life when I’ve been going through some major changes physically. I typically don’t mind change, but this summer it’s all come at once, and I’m grateful for my faith, which has helped me to hold it together. I have no doubt that God will work things out. Right now I just have to endure.
As of today, I’m going through my awkward puberty stage at 43. I can’t explain what’s happened to my body. All I can say is that it’s been highjacked by my hormones. Last month, I had to deal with Dooneese, the hideous bump on my neck. This month it’s all about my hair crisis.
A couple of weeks ago, my hair fell out after I washed it. It was the scariest physical thing that has happened to me since being pregnant. Shocked does not begin to describe how I felt. I held clumps of my hair in my hands and all I could do was cry. When I was done combing it out I had a half gallon freezer bag filled with my hair.
I’ve always had long hair, except when I was 14 or 15 when I got a crew cut for some strange reason, but that’s another story. My hair was part of my identity. And just like that, it was gone. I called one of my sisters hysterical, and she rushed right over to help me. The best she could do was give me tequila shots and a lot of hugs. It didn’t help my hair grow back, but I felt no pain.
I’ve had a battery of negative tests and physicals, with the conclusion from my dermatologist was that it’s most likely my body’s reaction to the onset of The Change. Boooo!
So how have I dealt with this traumatic experience?
It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve cried a lot for the old me. In an attempt to gain back some control, I started a 10-day green smoothie cleanse to detox my system. I don’t know what the cleanse will accomplish, but it’s the best that I can do at the moment. I saw my hair stylist, got a deep conditioning and my hair cut. Now I just have to write and wait for my hair to grow back.
Waiting is a pain in the butt and I look crazy. Some days I look like Emo Phillips and other days I look like Dark Helmet from Spaceballs. And it sucks. But I know I’ll be okay since I can joke and make myself laugh about my current state of beauty. (Click on the links. They’re funny.)
Looking back over my character’s circumstances and how she deals with life, I wrote her in such a way that she could also overcome hardship with a good laugh and support from her family. And I gave her more hair, just to make myself feel better.