I honestly don't know what happened to last week's post. I tried to tell the touching tale of how my dad helped me out when my tire went flat at work, but for some reason the computer didn't want me to. I'm really sorry.
Everyone's heard the expression "TMI," or Too Much Information. It usually has to do with personal information or, at least in my family, bodily functions. But writers have their own version of TMI, and I'm going to call it AUR--Accidental Unwanted Research.
I have the habit of Googling every little question that comes to me while I'm writing, and today, one of those questions was how long hair grows if left uncut. I turned to Wikipedia, which gave me a wonderful history of long hair--along with the unwanted information that, in medieval Ireland, men prized long hair. It was actually a crime to cut a man's hair without his consent.
Interesting, yes. But also disturbing.
In Where the Clouds Catch Fire, I never really give a description of Alynn's father, Rowan. We learn that he has a braided mustache, and that he has a tall and wiry frame, but that's about it. Well, I (of course) have my own mental picture of him, and it certainly didn't include long hair.
Actually, he originally had red hair. Then, I realized that almost every other male in the book has red hair, so I made him blonde with red facial hair (yes, that's a naturally-occurring thing). So I'm already dealing with some cognitive dissonance when I find out that the average Irish guy had hair like Legolas.
I actually turned to Legolas for inspiration, because he manages to make long hair look less stupid. The secret, I suppose, is having it pulled back so it doesn't frame the face. That would also make sense in Rowan's case. He's a smith, so he can't have his hair falling down in his face every five minutes. And maybe adding a close-cropped beard to his mustache would make him look a bit more manly, too.
The only thing is, I can't find a decent picture of a guy with long blonde hair, a red beard, and a braided mustache. I can hardly find pictures of guys with braided mustaches.
Accidental Unwanted Research is both good and bad. It's good because I can now add another element of historical accuracy to my writing. It's bad because I now have to go back and change things. But changing a book is one thing; changing my mind is another. I'm glad I don't give much reference in the book to how Rowan looks. He's not a very major character; it doesn't matter that much anyway. Perhaps it's in everyone's best interest to let them figure out for themselves what Rowan looks like.
And no, he doesn't look like Legolas. Their hair is the only thing they have in common.
Have you ever done any Accidental Unwanted Research? And what's your opinion on guys having long hair? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.