This is really what I want to write about. I have noticed that self-published male writers never have hair issues. Their children sit quietly on a bench, or read at home patiently, while giant machines print out their father’s books. These kids never actually have to be with their father, say, throwing tantrums, or vomiting, or spilling juice. All events which will wreak havoc on a mom/gal’s appearance. No, not one hair on the male self-publishing author’s head frizzes out of place.
I did not know what a huge toll Independent publishing would take on my appearance. Before we began converting files, writing copy, soliciting blurbs, seeking permissions for lyrics, and decoding royalties, my husband took my author photo (well, more like 1,426 pictures because, given that dogs are central to LOVE LIKE A DOG, we tried to photograph me with both our dogs, but they are ill- trained, and did not understand they should sit at the same time). My hair, however, had just been cut, colored, shaped, the works. My hair looked good. Which is a day to remember, because it has not looked so good since. Hair care is a gender-biased, multi-billion dollar business lodged in my female brain, depleting my already thin wallet. Daily now, I experience horror and chagrin.
I have no time for my wispy tresses. I am the Queen of the scrunchie, addict of the hair clip. I get up, throw myself at the computer, downing coffee in my nightgown which sometimes doesn’t come off until 3 p.m. or so, clicking away at the self-publishing venture (why has the pagination changed in pdf? Why do blank pages suddenly appear? What is the best font type? Is ivory paper always the color of choice for fiction?). Unfortunately, at three in the afternoon, I do not transform into a lusty bedmistress, as do the Sun King/Southern Nut’s characters. My youngest child comes home from school, begins machine-gunning animated people on his computer. He wears headphones and shouts tactics at the screen. Right before complaining to me about the lack of snacks. He reminds me I must drive him somewhere important, like Best Buy or his friend, Jackson’s, house. Scrunchie yanking my hair back, glasses on, shorts zipped, I proceed to be the driver/housewife/cook/cleaning lady I am in the summers when I don’t teach. James Frey (author of A Million Little Pieces) once famously suggested in an interview (this is a paraphrase) that his success was due to his working harder than most writers. I think he said, “I, instead, can put in an eight hour day.” Only male writers say such silly things. I think it’s some chromosomal advantage that enables some men to see themselves as centers of the universe. In this universe, hair is a non-issue.
Despicable hair is a privilege reserved for frantic middle-aged mothers & other busy women. Still, the disheveled, devil-may-care look could become a fad; an over the top, fuck-you-for-expecting-me-to-try, thumb-in-your-face, I-am-strong-I’ve-got-unwashed -hair-type-of-woman writer fad. Billions of dollars in services and products will mean nothing to me, nothing.
In fact, the Sun King convincingly reports that: “…the book industry is shifting in fundamental ways….Rather than bemoaning the contraction of corporate publishing, writers … should focus on what might replace that model….I foresee a day when writers will prefer to print chapbooks … I love the idea that these works will move directly from the artist to his or her readers, literally hand-delivered.” If some of these writers are women, they’ll be wearing sunglasses and hats.