Writing Without Makeup

May 26, 2015 by

Writing Without Makeup

I never go anywhere without makeup. I suppose that comes from growing up fat. By the time I graduated from high school, I weighed 300 lbs. All the usual things the other girls did in high school (such as cheerleading, dating, having a boyfriend, going to prom, etc.), I missed out on. I also missed out on other things, too. Things like dressing up in fashionable fun clothes (believe me, when you weigh 300 lbs, the last thing you want to do is wear something that makes you stand out) or how to wear makeup. It wasn’t until I was halfway through college, and had lost most of the extra weight that I began thinking about things like mascara, lipstick, and blush. Once I started wearing makeup, I didn’t feel comfortable without it… until today.

Yesterday, and again this morning, I went for a walk. It’s something I had to force myself to do, since I’m not 1) not much for physical exercise; and 2)Makeup not much of a nature buff. But the past winter was not kind, as I ruefully discovered last week when resurrecting my favorite pair of summer slacks from the dark recesses of my closet. The pants zipped just fine, but they didn’t feel right. Seems I’ve been spending too much time in my comfy chair behind the computer. “Suck it up, Kathleen“, I told myself. “You need to get moving.” Since I hadn’t planned on going anywhere (besides the walk), I decided not to wear makeup. But what about all the people that might see me? I weighed the pros and cons, and couldn’t come up with a good reason to spend the extra time required primping before the mirror. Putting on makeup suddenly seemed like too much work. Ditto for curling my hair. I grabbed my sunglasses, ran a brush through my hair (which didn’t help much), and out the door I went.

What happened? During my two mile jaunt, I saw two white-tail deer, and heard lots of blue jays calling to each other from high in the trees. I also encountered plenty of bicyclists and other people out for strolls. I waved, I called out, I chatted. And guess what? Everyone responded. Motorists waved back. Cyclists and dog-walkers alike traded “Good morning!”s with me. No one seemed to care that my hair was sticking straight up, or that my face was without makeup. It didn’t matter. No one seemed to notice. marilynmonroe-206

Perhaps Marilyn said it best: “A smile is the best makeup any girl can wear.”

Writing is like that. There’s nothing wrong with makeup. Sometimes (even the best of books) hide their blemishes with pretty adverbs and fluffy filler. Lord knows I’m guilty of it. But as time goes on, I’m learning (I hope!) how to write without makeup. I’m discovering that the best writing I do is when I’m without any concealer. When I allow the characters to dictate what should happen, rather than taking the safe route to ‘The End’. When I dig a little deeper into the emotions behind the fact, rather than merely touching the edges of a conflict. When I don’t choose the safe path, but instead, take a giant leap forward.

And each time I do it, each scene I write reads a little bit truer… a little bit bolder and braver. Maybe I’m discovering that the blemishes are a good thing. Everyone has them. It’s when I try and pretend they never existed that I get into trouble.

Will I take off the sunglasses? Will I let you see my true self?breakfast_at_tiffanys_audrey_and_sunglasses

In my writing, yes.

In my real life? Wait. First I need to brush my hair.

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  1. You wouldn’t believe what I look like when I leave the house! Living in a small town, I walk every morning with my pj pants on and whatever sweatshirt I can find, hair a mess, no makeup (and have no problem going up town on weekends looking like that – minus the pj’s!) 🙂 BUT, when I go to work, or anywhere else “for the day”, I try to look presentable!
    Next time, I’m coming back as a man. They can be ready in 5 minutes!

    • Kathleen Irene Paterka

      Jill, too funny about the way men present themselves! They really CAN be ready in 5 minutes, can’t they? P.S. I think you’re very brave to go out with the pj pants and sweatshirt… I live in a small town too, but I wouldn’t try that. LOL.