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  • Dana Ellington

Mommy, Where Do Stories Come From?

Creatives are often asked what inspired them to create a certain piece.  I find myself inspired in so many ways, but mostly by what happens in my day-to-day living.

Today's post was inspired by the same thing that inspired me to write my first full length novel "Hello Diva", and that is, my hair loss.  If you aren't aware, let me tell you, hair is a major source of self-esteem in the Black community. How your hair looks can make or break how you're perceived and treated. With the advancement of hair extensions, weave and wig techniques, and more open dialog about redefining beauty standards, today's Black woman can rock any length, texture, or style she so chooses (as is evidenced by this beautiful collage at Black Girls Allowed).  As long as you HAVE hair, all is basically right with the world. As a kid, my hair was the first thing I'd be teased about.  It was never an "acceptable" length or texture as far as the kids around me were concerned and I was teased about it a lot.  But at least I had some.  For the next many years, my hair wouldn't change, wouldn't grow any longer, and remained a source of low self-esteem.


Fast forward then to 2001. Despite my father's death in February and my divorce that December, most of 2001 was spent living a life I was finding to be reasonably good. I'd dealt with some demons, overcome some hardships, even found a new love, all while managing to feel pretty good about myself, even about my hair. I'd get professional help at the beauty shop as often as possible but otherwise, I left it alone and it, in turn, covered my head.  Till one day I noticed a small patch of hair missing from the crown of my head. I didn't think too much of it, chalked it up to the stress of my crazy life and kept things moving.

Then comes 2003. My new relationship ended in a broken engagement, my grandmother passed, and a lay-off left me job-less with all manners of financial drama. With a little help from family and friends though, I was able to persevere and patch over some of the dings to my self-esteem. At least I thought I had. It was right about then I noticed the patch of scalp showing at the top of my head had gotten bigger.  Again, thinking it was all related to stress, I assured myself it would start growing back in as soon as things settled down. Yeah, not quite. In 2005, another lay-off swept me once again into joblessness. Recovery this time included a move across country and a job making significantly less than I'd been making before. Once again, though, I toughed it out, putting my self-esteem back together as best I could whilst noticing the significant lack of hair strands now obviously showing on the top of my head.

Despite anything else that was positive in my life, the loss of hair overshadowed it all.  Not only were the strands gone, but any sense of beauty or worth I'd tenuously been able to gather, was gone as well.


 Que the Dramatic Music

NaNoWriMo 2008 - eight days into November and I hadn't put not nary a word to page.  I was late signing up and off to a spectacularly slow start when a voice inside my head (one of many, lol) said quite clearly, "What the fuck did you do to your hair?"  Shortly after that, another voice murmured "I really hate that man".  In a matter of a few minutes, an entire scene blossomed into view in my mind's eye. A woman, who reminded me of myself, sitting in a chair by her dying father's bedside.  As it often happens with me, my lead character - whose name turned out to be Charise Sayles - noticed me noticing her and began to chat with me.  She told me her story over the course of the next 22 days and thus, the draft, and 2008 NaNoWriMo badge winner, Hello Diva was born.

Stats:

  • Draft length - 51,199

  • Original title - Oh What a Tangled Hair We Weave

  • Final length - 73,101 (includes chapter titles)

  • Published - 2012 with the final title, "Hello Diva".

  • The new title came from a line Charise says after a transformative visit to the hair salon.

To purchase your copy, pop on over to Amazon: https://amzn.to/32DZxdb. It's only available on Kindle right now, for $1.99.


In the meantime, as always, sending love and light!

Dana

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