The Things Authors Ignore...On Purpose

Once again, I was in the bathroom doing my most productive thinking. Mothers of toddlers understand this. If you actually remember to lock the door, you have a few moments of privacy. When the children are asleep, you have endless hours of privacy soaking in gloriously hot water...

Well, maybe not endless hours. Because the warmth gets heady and sleep practically screams for you from the bedroom.

But, getting back to my point. I was sunk low in the hot water, the Lush bath bomb dissolving all around me, smelling a little like fruit loops (I don't mind 'cause I like Fruit Loops). I reached for the razor, pleased as punch to have the pleasure of shaving every inch of not just one of my legs, but if there were no tomorrow. But then I frown--razor halted mid-stride. How many books have I written and read where the characters would not have shaved?


That's not romantic, is it? Who wants to imagine their character being swooped into the arms of a handsome, leading man...only to find that under her petticoats is Mrs. Harry Henderson? Lets not get started on under her arms!

But body hair is just the beginning...

My eyes shift to the white, clean, sparkling toilet (hey, you don't know if I'm stretching the truth here!). The roll of toilet paper is disheveled--a toddler having unrolled it and hurriedly tried to put it back to right before mommy discovered. I think of the piles of snow in the back yard and freezing wind and air that sucks the breathe right out of your lungs when you step outside. I imagine the countless potty breaks my daughter takes during the day...and frown at the thought of traipsing back and forth to an outhouse. And what about the flu?! How many of my characters had to sit in a sweltering hot outhouse in the heat of July...flies buzzing around their ears...and the smell wrapping suffocating hands around their quivering throats?

Did you know that I really, truly had a Great Grandfather that had a stroke walking back to the house from the outhouse? It was in the middle of winter. He froze to death. When family found him the next morning, they had to pry him from the ground where his beard had frozen.


I rub a hand over my smooth leg before sinking back into the hot water, letting it wash over my tired shoulders that spend hours hunkered in front of a computer screen researching, refining minute details in novels. I keep true to time periods and historic settings. But never...and I repeat, never will I allow leg or underarm hair to be spoken about on my female characters. It might be there, yes (historically)...but I don't need to imagine it, think of it, or write about it. I don't want to kill the joyous escape of reading, after all. ;)

What kinds of things do you conveniently ignore when writing period pieces? Do you ever have a character kiss another first thing in the morning? What about mourning breath? Or burping? ;)

Want to check out just when females started shaving in America? Check out this post.

Fun Video:

Have 25 minutes to spare in which you don't want to bathe? Take a look at one of the funniest TV episodes involving a shower. ;) I couldn't find the single clip.


PS: I need to stop writing blog posts about hygiene. ;)


  1. LOL, I don't write historicals, but you certainly had me laughing! This crossed my mind when I recently visited France. I thought, "Hmm, While in France, should I do as the French and not shave my legs?" It felt kind of freeing to entertain the thought for a few minutes. But you'll be glad to know I didn't cave in.

  2. I'm glad you did! LOL I read a book by Lynn Austin where one of the female characters had a period. She was masquerading as a Union solider, trying to pull off that she was a man. It was going fine until her period began. LOL I was glad that Lynn tossed that in there to make the whole story a bit more believable. :) SHE did NOT ignore details!! It was quite comical to read how the character tried to cover THAT up!