LYRIC O’ THE DAY:
I’m out on the edge, but I’m not defeated yet.
--Don’t Fall, The Chameleons
Disclaimer: Men may not get this post. Actually, women may not either.
I have spent a significant amount of my womanhood removing hair. I started shaving in high school. I plucked my eyebrows in college. In medical school I discovered the depilatory. I still fondly remember the pleasant roses-and-sulfur smell of Nair.
In spite of my Bohemian heritage, I find pleasure in being less hirsute.
It was only natural that I would eventually try waxing. It has actually become my go-to sadomasochistic beauty ritual, right behind exercise and eating fiber.
It just so happened that my routine bikini wax coincided with me finishing my WIP this week. This is the WIP that has drained me for six months, taunting me like that one crazy thick hair that occasionally grows on your chin, making you feel like the Wicked Witch of the West.
I relished my success as I stared at a salon ceiling listening to the soothing sounds of a pan flute. Apparently Zamfir has convinced aestheticians everywhere that mood music will somehow make you forget that hair is being ripped out of your nether regions by the root. And then I had a epiphany.
Writing is a lot like a bikini wax.
Why? Well let me share the four most eventful waxes of my life with you, and perhaps you will agree.
The first time I ever tried to wax was a lot like prom night; it involved a bottle of wine, me half naked, and a package bought from Walgreens for $10.99. After popping the wax in the microwave for the allotted 30 seconds, I prepared to experience the ultimate in long lasting hair removal.
My hand only shook a little as I used the little spatula to smear a thick glob of honey colored goo on my most precious areas. In retrospect, I should have started small, but the cloths were the size of envelopes so I thought that indicated the recommended size of waxage area. I smoothed them on, feeling my skin tighten to alarming levels as the wax hardened.
Minutes went by.
The wax was now a substance of super glue proportions.
I had one of those moments of clarity you get right before you do something insane
. . .and I chickened out.
Luckily, my fiance chose that very moment to arrive home. I still remember the look of horror on my betrothed’s face as he watched me run across the living room, cloth strips fluttering wildly from my lady parts while I hysterically begged him to pull them off. Two hours and a warm sitz bath later, my delicate flower was free of its wax prison, and our relationship stayed vanilla flavored.
And God bless the boy, he still married me.
Reason #1 why writing is like a bikini wax: When you start, you need some help from the professionals. Almost no one writes a bestseller out of the box. Good writing takes preparation. Practice. Courage. Go to writer’s websites--one of my favorites is Query Tracker. Read writer’s blogs. Take a class or two. Commiserate with other writers further along the journey. And then you might be ready.
The second time I tried to wax, I went to a salon armed with knowledge from that bible of feminine mystique, Cosmopolitan. I arrived early to peruse a disturbing book of coiffure creations, settling on a sensible style called “The American.” I was led into a room no larger than a coat closet that smelled vaguely of borscht and patchouli by a small Russian woman who looked to be around Methuselah’s age. She barked at me to sit on the table and strip. That was it. No small talk, no hand-holding, just wham-bam take-your-pants-off ma’am. She smeared the wax on like she was basting me for Thanksgiving, her face morphing into a mask of feral glee eerily resembling Dick Cheney with a shotgun and a memoir. When the first strip of wax came off, I screamed like a rabbit in a mower whimpered bravely.
Reason #2 why writing is like a bikini wax: Your first time often ends in embarrassment and will be much more painful than you anticipated. And yes, you might cry. My first trial out on the writing trail ended in flames. There was head hopping. Chapters dedicated to infodumping. A plethora of “he lookeds” and “she felts.” I queried that piece of crap and got enough rejections to keep my kids in scratch paper until they’re in college. But it was a hell of a learning experience.
I avoided the wax for awhile, falling back into the arms of Master BIC and his cheap shaving thrills. That is, until my sixth month of my first pregnancy, when I no longer could even see my lady parts. I was hell bent that I would not give birth resembling a yeti. I blame hormones and pimento cheese spread for this momentary lapse of reason. I think the combination short-circuited my neurons.
The waxer was a perky twenty-something with narrow hips and skin that glowed naturally, not from sweat induced by the pimento cheese-craving fire ball in her womb. She looked down her perfect little upturned nose at my innie-now-outie and obviously was making mental notes to never have children. I felt bad for a moment, like there was something wrong with what I was doing. And then I just hoped maybe I’d accidentally pee a little to really horrify her.
Reason #3 why writing is like a bikini wax: Sometimes people don’t like your stuff. This whole writing business is subjective. What floats my boat might make you want to shove a ball point pen in your eye. But there’s a genre for everyone, and someone will love your innie, your outie, or in the case of the tummy tucked, your nottie. Never compromise what makes you happy--write what you love first, then worry about the audience.
After years of practice, I now have met the master of the art of hair removal. Her name is Chevy, and she’s the best damn bikini waxer in the Midwest. You’re in and out in less than ten minutes, smooth as silk and ready for the beach.
The first time I went to Chevy, I was at a crossroads, needing something different. So I decided to go the full tilt Brazilian. All was going well until she pushed up her sleeves and said, “Can you Sphinx for me?”
I wasn’t really sure what that meant, although the Bangles’ Walk Like an Egyptian started playing on my inner soundtrack.
She said it again, in a way that I--a graduate degree carrying career woman--could understand.
“Get on your hands and knees. Like the Sphinx. You know, in Egypt?”
The Bangles suddenly morphed into Judas Priest’s, You Got Another Thing Coming.
If you’ve ever thought there’s anything more vulnerable than being naked with a woman you just met ten minutes prior who has a tongue depressor covered with hot wax coming at your backside, please direct message me. We need to talk.
Reason #4 why writing is like a bikini wax: Sometimes you just gotta put your ass out there. It takes a lot of guts to expose your work to the world, to face the rejections and gracefully accept the accolades. Keep doing it!
I admire every single one of you.