Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice


Hey, did you see this story make the rounds recently?  It seems that, due to a phenomenon known as negative frequency-dependent selection, the more common beards are, the less desirable they become. In a sea of clean-shaven men, the one guy with the beard is likely to get the positive attention, and when all the men are bearded, it’s the baby face who stands out and is most desirable.

It’s an interesting study, though I note their focus is on full beards and not outrageous mustaches. I suspect the findings would apply there, too, and since just plain ‘staches do not seem to be as common as full beards, I guess I stand out in the crowd in a good way (though I sometimes look at myself in the mirror and think, “You really go out looking like that?” but a shave is not in my future).

It does make me wonder if NFD plays any role in the books we read. I certainly know that I sometimes browse bookshelves in the store or online, or look at a cover or book release on a blog, and think, “Ugh, not another [insert hot trend of the month here].” Of course, this could be due to the fact that I’m simply not the right audience for whatever’s trendy. YA and MG seem much more beholden to the ‘flavor of the month’ effects than the adult market, though I can be way off base there, too.

Perhaps instead of following the trends, we would be better off bucking the trend. Vampires are in? Give us pirates! Pirates are super hot? Astronauts! Then again, maybe chasing the next big thing, or deliberately writing against trends, is just as bad as trying to jump on the moving train. Write what you want, write it as best you can, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Grow a beard if you want to.

Have a great weekend, all!

7 Responses

  1. I think I'll pass on growing that beard, thank you very much! 🙂

    Heck, I wish the hockey players would stop growing them during the playoffs. Don't they realize they made it TO the playoffs without them? So why jinx it?

  2. What I hate is the almost beards, the ones that look like a guy hasn't shaved in a few days. I can't even imagine how they can be seen as attract. Who wants to kiss sandpaper? O_o

  3. I agree with not writing to trends, but it works for some people. I feel bad about bowing to popular tastes and writing a thriller instead of horror… But I have to give it a shot. ONE shot. Then I go back to what I love and am good at even if it doesn't sell. Life is too short.

  4. Thanks, everyone.

    A couple of quickies:

    I think writing to the trends might work, especially if you're fast. I'm not. I might write 'flavor of 14 years ago' fiction. So, I'll call myself a rebel and say I'm bucking the trend instead.

    Re: hockey beards: it's hard to believe the playoff beard is relatively recent (i.e., started in my lifetime) thing. It seems like they've been doing it forever!

    Stubble: the "Don Johnson" look–I thought the girls loved it! Maybe when Don Johnson was the only guy looking like that.

  5. Well, my trend is a beard. I've had this so long, I don't even remember what my face looks like. I guess it's unfortunate that I live in an area with lots of beards.

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