Flat-Ironing a Novel

I am growing out my hair.

This is not a remarkable thing. I’ve had long hair before, but this time I’m highly conscious of it. Three years ago, I died my very long hair black. It was supposed to be temporary—but it wasn’t. I ended up chopping off my hair and wearing it boy-short for awhile. Since the black grew out, I’ve been letting my hair grow long in preparation for my wedding this June.

It’s getting longish now, below my shoulders. It is, depending on how you’re trying to characterize me, either the dark golden-brown of mesquite honey or the drab brown of mouse fur and dead leaves. It also grows erratically—vaguely straight on top, wavy around the ears, curly at the bottom, so I can’t air-dry it without committing to the just-rolled-out-of-bed, hippy-meets-flattening-humidity look. And no one likes that look.

There is one lock, about an inch square, near the nape of my neck in the back, that grows in a perfect, loose, regular spiral curl. It is, without a doubt, the prettiest part of my hair.

Usually I blow-dry and flat-iron it straight, though. It would be way more work to make the rest of my hair match that beautiful curl—work I’m not really capable of. When I curl my hair, it tends to end up resembling River Song’s, and not in a good way.

I LOVE River's hair

I have to crush that curl, flatten it, erase its existence, to make it meld with the rest of my hair.

It’s the beauty equivalent of killing your darlings. Sometimes you have to cut the most poetic, intriguing character or subplot for the sake of the rest of the novel. Sometimes our darlings just don’t match the rest of our plot. It would take forever to rewrite your book to suit that darling, just like it would take forever to put my hair into spiral curls. And in the end, sometimes you just end up with frizz and split ends.

Sure, it’s in your novel’s best interest. It’s in my hair’s best interest to flatten that lovely curl.

That doesn’t make it any less of a bummer, though.

Have you had to kill a darling (book or hair), readers? How did it feel?