In Search of My Inner Bohemian

So when I started my new job back in April, I wanted to make a clean break and a fresh start. Working in the corporate world, I was expected to dress professionally, act professionally and not do anything that might reflect badly on the corporation. My former boss even “had a discussion” with me about the henna I would wear on my hands occasionally. (I had a side business and had to advertise – long story)

So when I started working in an University environment, I thought it was time to go crazy. I planned on getting my nose pierced, my hair streaked with pink, even maybe a tattoo. I was going to embrace my inner artist, I’d become the funky writer chick, and be that cool person everyone was like “Wow, that Jamie, she’s an author! And boy does she look the part!”

Except I didn’t. I chickened out. The nose ring looked like it would be too painful. Besides, who wants a bump of scar tissue in your nostril?  I couldn’t commit to a tattoo – what would I get? Would I still love it when I was 80? Where would I put it? Even the streaked hair didn’t happen. I *intended* to get bright red streaks…but they turned sort of soft auburn when I actually went to the hair dresser.

I was so disappointed in myself. I wanted to look like that fun, funky person I imagine myself to be. I wanted to look the way I thought writers *should* look. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to do what I felt like I needed to look the part. I even hate wearing skirts – especially the hippy chick kind that I imagine “authors” wear. And ugh – I can’t stand the smell of patchouli!

But then I realized – being a writer isn’t about what you look like, it’s about what you say. When it comes down to it, writing is a solitary pursuit, and while a lot of us have jobs or kids, most people never see us while we’re wearing our “writing hats.” So, really, what does it matter what color your hair is, except for how it makes you feel?

Writing is not about breaking social norms with your appearance (though sometimes it can help or be fun), it’s about using your words to create something memorable, challenging, or life-altering. And you don’t need a nose ring to do that – you just need to believe in yourself and your writing. And then put your butt in that chair and write it! If that means you wear Chanel No. 5, or PJ bottoms, or a business suit, it doesn’t matter – as long as you WRITE. I need to remember that when I’m getting down on myself for not being that free-spirited writer chick I think I should be.

But someday I swear I’m getting those pink streaks, dammit!


  1. I want pink streaks, too!! Or red. Red would be fun.

    Great post!

  2. Aw, I hear you with this post and also search about for ways to make me look like a writer, even though all that matters is the actual words on a page. Although the looking part, it is all about how it makes you feel, and when you feel like a writer, you often already are one. Gosh that feels very zen! I think nod towards your creative side as much as you can in the corporate world, and that will help how you feel inside. 🙂

  3. Funny, I thought this way my whole life. I finally got a tattoo in grad school. I'm glad I did. But it doesn't make me a writer. Writing does! So keep writing!

  4. I'm still going to try the red streaks, Mandy – this time I'll put my foot down 🙂

    Jayne – that *is* very zen! Thank you. I know that looking a bit "alternative" makes me feel a tiny bit more creative, or at least lets me pretend to have some attitude, so I'm going to try to do one "bohemian" thing a week 🙂

    Lydia – I love tattoos – I've actually been 3xs to get one but have chickened out. I've totally promised that when I get my first book published, I'll get the cover tattooed on me somewhere! (Let's hope it doesn't suck!) But yeah, definitely keep writing – you can't be a writer without it!

  5. LOL I got a tattoo as part of a bet. I needed grocery money and someone said they'd give me $400 just because they thought I wouldn't do it. I did, and I got grocery money for 3 months because of it. I still like my tattoo and plan on eventually getting more. And I've done the funky colored hair. No piercings though. But as Lydia says, writing makes you a writer. So write on and have fun!

  6. I always think its fun to dress for the image. Of course, its not *about* the image but the work, but it's still fun!

    It's funny you mention red hair dye, because I *just* bought some a couple days ago. I haven't worked up the nerve to try it yet though, especially since I'm getting glasses soon too.

    During cold months though, a completely non-piercing way to give yourself that 'author' vibe is to wear fingerless gloves. I love those things. 😀

  7. This made me chuckle internally, because that is not how I picture a writer, at all. I have tattos, piercings, had all my hair dyed purple before and it didn't feel any different than it does now, when I have medium golden brown hair (dye, my natural hair color is dark brown). Writing is what you DO, not how you look. You are a writer, if that is what you do…no matter how you present yourself. =]

  8. A.M. – That's awesome! I'd charge a little more than $400 😉 But what a fun story to tell! And it's great you still love it – I have commitment issues myself LOL!

    Ha! ganymeder – I actually bought a pair of fingerless gloves – totally steampunky – I love them!

    Am – I know, it's funny the images we get in our heads about what something "should" look like! I don't actually know *any* authors who look like that, it's just my crazy brain 🙂