I created the Writing Our Lives Workshop back in 2009 because I believe our stories matter and I wanted to help writers write them. This is still what motivates my teaching and the classes I put together.
I also created the workshop because I wanted to help writers get published. This partnership is helping that happen. Thank you Tin House and thank you to all the alum who worked so hard on their submissions and let themselves be vulnerable.
I present to you the first essay in the Tin House – Writing Our Lives partnership: “Hair Like a Cactus Needle” by Yollotl Lopez.
There are two types of hairdressers: those who obey the clients and do as they ask and those who think they know better than their clients and cut off three inches when they said, “Justa trim.” My sister is the latter. After one bad haircut, my father never let her touch him again. It didn’t matter that she had always been his favorite; this was a matter of his hair.
When I began my cosmetology training, my sister mocked me and said if Dad didn’t trust her with his hair than he would trust me even less. However, my father still refused to let my sister touch his hair even as it grew shaggy and long, losing it’s Ricky Ricardo shape.
One Sunday, he came up to me and asked if I’d be willing to try his haircut.
Read the rest of the flash essay on the Tin House site here.
I had a moment earlier where I sobbed hard. See, my logo, the Writing Our Lives logo, is on the Tin House website. This workshop I created with all my heart and feet and guts. A workshop created by a girl now woman who was not meant to survive. A woman who will turn 43 in two weeks and left her mother’s house at 13 and never returned. The same woman who was told the other day by her sister and her sister’s husband that she is pathetic and her life is meaningless, among other hateful things. No, I don’t believe them but I’d be lying if I said didn’t feel it… See, the reason I can do this work is because I feel things profoundly. This is my superpower. It’s also my Achilles heel.
Today the Tin House – Writing Our Lives partnership went live and I was reminded that this is why I do the work I do. This is why I risk so much. This is what I am meant to do and I take such joy in it…and sometimes, I am attacked for it. But I won’t stop. Ever.
I am thinking of my brother. I am chanting his name: Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos.
I am saying: Look at what I did, bro. Look!
I wish he could see me now…