October 17th, 2018

The Bikini Wax Theory of Writing

Some people talk about writing like they are chasing butterflies along the pretty garden paths of their manuscripts. Like their words frolic with Disney characters. They speak of churning out pages like a high-end laser printer.

I am not one of those people.

A few times a year I have one of those idyllic days but, most of the time, writing is an uphill grind. A teeth-gnashing session filled with curse words, clock watching and questions like, "Are we there yet?"

But we're writers. Writers persevere. Even if it's only one page at a time--hell, one sentence at a time--we keep going. We are mighty beings formed of stubbornness, creativity and caffeine.

Currently, I'm deep in a memoir about my crazy high-risk pregnancy journey. Rather than a grind, this manuscript is an all-out pain-fest. Instead of making up story lines and black moments for fictional characters, I'm reliving my own.

The only thing getting me through this memoir is my Bikini Wax Theory of writing.

Let me explain...

A few decades back (when I still cared about creative ladyscaping), I'd go to those cutely-named wax joints with names like Pretty Kitty, The Lunch Box, The Sugar Shack. People in those places know their way around a bikini line.

But one day I was in a rush and I needed some emergency ladyscaping.

[Don't judge. You know you've been in a rush to get ready for a date at some point in your life.]

I was at the hair salon and they offered waxing and, well...time was the only thing I had in short supply that day. So, I found myself in a back room with a woman with fluttery hands who asked a lot of questions about how I was doing.

Are you comfortable?
Does that feel okay?
Is the wax too warm?

The people at the cute-name places never asked how I was doing. They were like moms on a marathon to get the sandwiches done before the school bus arrived. They'd slap and smooth and rip like the pros they were. In the time it took my uber-polite fluttery girl to get ready, they'd have done a full Brazilian on a Sasquatch.

Finally, we got to the main waxing event. She smoothed on the warm wax, pressed her strip of linen over it. I sucked in the quick breath that goes along with having hair ripped out of your body and... She paused.

That very sweet polite fluttery woman paused when she should have kept ripping. She didn't want to cause me pain. She was afraid she'd done something wrong. She wrung her hands and gushed out her story. The usual waxer was out sick. They'd pulled her over from pedicures. She was sorry, sorry, so so sorry.

And meanwhile, a hardening strip of wax is hanging off me, my bikini line is on fire and I'm out of time.

I shrieked at her. "There's no pausing!"

More apologies.

I did the quick breathing of insane pain and gritted my teeth. "We can't stop halfway. We've still got to do this. Please, please, just get it over with."

Eventually, with much more pain than necessary, she got through the process. By dragging it out, she'd wrecked my timeline and my dignity. Plus, she caused enough bruising to make me call off the date. I needed to curl up with ice packs instead.

That sweet woman was an epic failure at waxing, but she taught me a very important lesson about writing. I think of her whenever my writing leaves me wrecked and sobbing. Whenever I don't want to finish a scene or a chapter because it hurts it hurts it hurts.

I'm only prolonging that pain by stopping halfway. It will still be waiting for me. It always is.

We all know the pain of the half-finished scene/chapter/novel. It hangs off us like hardening wax, ripping at us more deeply than if we'd just faced the page and gotten through it to the other side.

So, I'm here to remind all of you (and myself):

We're writers. Writers persevere. Even if it's only one page at a time--hell, one sentence at a time--we keep going. We are mighty beings formed of stubbornness, creativity and caffeine.

When in doubt, just keep going, y'all. You've got this. And you're my tribe, so I've got this too.

One last pro tip: If you feel the need for some lady(or man)scaping, especially if you're shooting for edgy mojo, pick the place with the cute naughty name. They've got the skills to get the job done fast.

What gets you through to the other side when "you don't wanna" [fill in the blank]? Share your motivation tips (and any juicy stories) with us down in the comments!

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or here at Writers In The Storm.

58 responses to “The Bikini Wax Theory of Writing”

  1. Holly Robinson says:

    Ow. Just ow. But, as usual, howlingly funny, Jenny! What gets me through the awfulness of writing scenes that don't want to get written (besides handfuls of M&Ms) is knowing that, just like the gym, I will feel better after having done the words. When I'm writing, the rest of whatever my day holds feels much more manageable, because I have that porthole of escape. When I'm not writing, well, the whole DAY can feel like a bikini wax half-done.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Chocolate is indeed a helpful motivator! I think it was Bob Mayer who said, "while I don't always like writing, I like 'having written.' I like that a lot."

      Lololol. We KNOW that feeling.

  2. christopherlentzauthor says:

    Never been bikini waxed. No plans to ever do it. But as a dude, I'd liken your analogy to childhood experiences of Indian rope burns, scalp-scraping "noogies" or a swift fist-punch to the nuts. Oh, or how about this one? (Jenny, I know you know this one firsthand.) Your back is on the ground and the bully (could be a sibling) is dangling a spit wad over your face. Dangling. Sucking it back up with each inhale. Lowering it with each exhale. That's what writing...or, more accurately...not finishing can feel like. So, the best thing to do is get it over with. The burn, the "noogie," the ball-bashing and the spit shower. And the writing. You always feel better after it's done. But you gotta get it DONE. Now editing, that's another story entirely.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Hahahaha! Laura hates editing too. I don't mind it so much. It's much more reinforcing than the blank page.

      And OY! The spit drop. It brings back a flood of childhood memories.

  3. Erin Bartels says:

    This is by far the most vivid and memorable writing metaphor I have ever read. XD

  4. Eldred Bird says:

    Okay, when I saw the title of this blog I laughed, but when I read "a full Brazilian on a Sasquatch" I just about blew Diet Coke out my nose. I understand the Sasquatch thing, as I am one. I have more hair than my dog. The stylist that used to cut my hair waxed the middle of my uni-brow a few of times and it felt like getting hit between the eyes with a ball peen hammer. I can't begin to imagine the pain involved with the forcible removal of the acreage required for a Brazilian. Now that I have that image firmly embedded in my brain, I promise to just grit my teeth and get through the next scene without complaining!

  5. Laura Drake says:

    TMI people! Chris, I may never eat again. GROSS!!!!!

    If I felt about writing the way you do, I wouldn't do it. Mind, I'm not saying I sit in the chair every day, anticipating unicorns dancing across the page, but jeez, it doesn't hurt THIS much!

    Oh, and Jenny, thanks for asking me to find photos. I now am educated in torture.

  6. Yep. I just do it. Sure, it definitely takes me longer than those times when I'm actually in the mood to write.

  7. K.B. Owen says:

    Wow. After all these metaphors, the real thing doesn't seem nearly as bad. Back to writing for me! (P.S. - thanks Jenny!).

  8. Tina Newcomb says:

    Ohmygosh! I'm holding my sides laughing. This is perfect. Thanks for making my Wednesday. Can't wait to share.

  9. dholcomb1 says:

    Thank you! I needed this today.

    denise

  10. Ann Sligar says:

    That was a hoot! An oh so true right-on hoot.

  11. C.M. Bakker says:

    This had me in tears! Both from pain and from laughing :S Came at the right time too. Better get back to writing...

  12. John Holton says:

    I've missed you, Jenny! You haven't blogged at your place in over a year.

    Great story, and very true, perseverance is everything.

  13. anneclermont says:

    Oh my gosh! Too funny! Love this, Jenny! It's so true!

  14. littlemissw says:

    It's torture for me too! I thought I was the only one. What get's me through is the fact that, even if I don't write the story down, it's still there bugging me so I might as well put it on paper.

    I once waxed my bikini line with a home kit before going away with my boyfriend (now hubby so he was worth it). I removed skin. Actual skin. Never again.

  15. Brad says:

    Jenny,
    I laughed more than I have in a long time. Glad I never tried it. I’m a guy so I stick to a scissor and a razor on my junk.

    Brad

  16. Carolz says:

    I read this as i sipped tea in my chair waiting for the next word to come. I spit out my tea with a hard, loud laugh. I needed that laugh and a reminder of the truth. Writing isn't butterflies fluttering on a path but really a Sasquatch getting a Brazilian. Love it!

  17. Dominique Blessing says:

    THANK YOU, JENNY!!! (Sorry, it deserved a shout.) So many times I feel like a Pinto racing against Porsches. And with NaNoWriMo looming, my comparison/perfection complex is in overdrive.

    Second, let me say that your ability to laugh about the Great Waxing Disaster speaks volumes about you as a person.

    Finally, as a veteran beauty professional, I have a good idea of what happened to your co-victim. She was likely pressured/bullied by the supervisor/desk manager (who was also replaced 3 months later) to take on the job despite her protests. And chaos ensued.
    Rest assured, she was as traumatized as you, and probably never let anyone coerce her into doing something like that again. I do a damn fine facial wax, but I've never done anything south of the chin. Leave that to the specialists.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Dominique, YOU made ME laugh with this comment. And yes, i do believe that girl was thoroughly traumatized. I'd have felt more sorry for her if she hadn't left me bright red with bruises.

      But yes, I believe that, especially if you write heavy stuff that writing is more of a slow slog than a sprint. I reward myself with sprinty pieces like this one so I can keep my self esteem intact. 🙂

  18. THAT was hilarious! Speaking as a Big Ugly Man, I have to say that most guys have NO IDEA about the lengths to which ladies go to look good! Ouch ouch ouch. And yes - it's a great metaphor. Unfortunately, knowing that I absolutely don't have time to get through the set or scene or blog post these days, I find that I don't start. Then, once I've firmly not started, I tuck the notes away and keep at not starting until I'm really ready for a nice long session of not writing... Mind you, Douglas Adams is one of my heroes, and he could not write a book for years.

    Good luck as you complete this one! Looking forward to it!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      BUMD! I have missed you, dude. What a great gift to see you pop up at WITS!

      I 100% understand that "no time equals no starting" thing. That's a big part of what is up at More Cowbell. I want to have time to be with my peeps in the comments and I don't always have that. But at some point, we've just gotta do our best, right? Even if it's sparse and sucky. At least that's what I'm telling myself...

  19. barbdelong says:

    Yikes and holy cow bells! I can't even tweeze my eyebrows! And no one else better touch them, dammit! But seriously, I find writing more unicornish. It's revision that's pulling at my short ones. Snort.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Unicornish? You lucky, lucky girl! I'm so jelly. You know who gave me the best advice ever on revisions (besides Margie Lawson with her EDITS system)? Candace Havens has a way of using her Fast Draft method on the revisions as well as the writing and her system is AWESOME. I highly recommend it.

  20. A classic Jenny post! Much success on this book!

  21. colleen says:

    Ha ha ha. Love this, and such a good point!! I needed this one today--thanks, Jenny! :O)

  22. Fae Rowen says:

    In the good old days, I used a razor. (Yep, ouch.) Then it was time to opt for a one-piece. I worried about getting a wax. Even got recommendations from my young friends. I decided on a new suit…one with a little skirt. Problem solved. Um, that's kind of how it goes with my writing, too, sometimes.

  23. Sheila Good says:

    You made my day! Laughing out loud at 5:30 in the morning is a great way to start the day! Great post and thanks for the motivation - to write! Not to wax - think I'll pass on that little adventure. LOL.

  24. Sarah says:

    Jenny, you are too much. You had me in stitches. I only get to write when my b.f. is OOT b/c he’s a distraction. I decide how long I’m going to spend writing and promise myself no visit with the Rabbit until I’ve completed those hours. I also reward myself with chocolate.
    The women in my writing group had a long discussion about your experience. Some of them choose to wax, others remain au naturel believing there is nothing ugly about that and others only remove hair on body parts that are seen in public. But most prefer that men get rid of some fur down there and one said she does it for him. Men probably believe trees appear taller when brush around them is removed. I imagine in rom novels all the women are waxed and men neatly trimmed.
    We were shocked (as were writers in other groups) that you allowed someone to be called a queen. Should any of us be printing something where a vicious slur was used against any oppressed group or like I read recently on a blog where a woman was called the C-word? I hope not. Acknowledging this prejudice that surprisingly came from WITS’s well-respected women and apologizing for it, especially considering how long women have suffered, would be the decent thing to do and an excellent teaching moment for your readers.
    Many thanks for all you do.
    In sisterhood,
    Sarah

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Sarah, thanks so much for taking time to comment here at WITS. We appreciate it, and it's nice to know y'all have our back.

      You are correct. Prejudice has no place on WITS. Yesterday, when Brad brought that term to my attention, I edited the comment and apologized to him. I'm sure you hadn't seen that part. We try to respect creativity and freedom of speech, which is why comments are generally left intact, but we do edit words where offense will be taken. (I edited the "C-word" in yours.)

      One thing: In your comment you said, "Acknowledging this prejudice that surprisingly came from WITS’s well-respected women and apologizing for it.." I need to be sure it is noted - there was no prejudice that came from any of the women at WITS, nor do we condone it. Ever. The single word was inside a comment left by a long-time WITS follower who truly meant no offense. It was discussed and the issue was rectified immediately.

  25. […] read more at writersinthestormblog.com […]

  26. Julie Glover says:

    Ha! What a fabulous analogy. And yeah, get 'er done!

  27. Rachel Lauderdale says:

    OMG! I will never look at a scene I'm avoiding writing the same way again. I'll hear a voice screaming "There's no pausing!" at me any time I'm leaning toward avoiding the pain.

    It's a good reminder that the pain in most things is often way less if we just deal with it without flinching. Thanks! I will definitely use this as a tool that sticks with me.

  28. […] Writers take lessons from everywhere. Amber Mitchell gives us writing lessons from Dungeons & Dragons, Harrison Demchick lists 4 things writers can learn from making a movie, and Jenny Hansen explains the bikini wax theory of writing. […]

  29. […] Do you remember my pep talk from the Bikini Wax Theory of Writing? […]

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