Life stories

Monday February 28, 2011 @ 03:01 PM (UTC)

I hate writing biographical statements for myself. It makes me feel almost as clueless and awkward as writing business letters. I feel like I’m wearing some sort of Victorian costume, a very formal cage: who is this person? And can she move in any natural fashion?

Ah yes, “she”. Most bios are in the third person, so some of the odd formality comes from stating your life’s facts and achievements from a false seat somewhere over your left shoulder. “Felicity Shoulders was born within sight of Mt. St. Helens, nine months to the day after its eruption,” I write. “Felicity Shoulders lives in the wooded hills of Portland, Oregon, with an engineer, a cat, and more computers than she can count.” Somehow it feels as if the narrator from Amélie is trying to sum me up and finding my life insufficiently whimsical. “Felicity Shoulders pourrait être un peu plus interessante.”

However, bio-blurb I must, and so I’ve worked at it, on the theory that practice should improve the muscle. I think it has. I’d estimate that when I write a new bio now, I feel only 20% the desire to writhe out of my own skin from embarrassment that used to strike me. Of course, being able to write toward the words “nominated for a Nebula” helps. My skin does have some advantages, after all.

But now, as a consequence of that happy pair of n-words, I have to write a new blurb, and the first person is specified (hooray for specificity!) The first person should be natural. No invisible floating perspective, no avuncular French voice. Just me, telling you about how I and my little story got here. And somehow, now, that feels almost as bad. I can’t sum anything up. I can’t tell you who I am or why you should care. When I find a potentially fruitful track, I find myself wandering down it far too long, until I’ve spent all my allotted words just telling you about reading my dad’s Science Fiction Book Club hardbacks as I grew up. Even in my own skin, it seems, I lack an overarching perspective.

Comments

I especially hate places that request “clever” bios, “no awards, publications, etc.” As if writing a regular bio isn’t cringeworthy enough, now we have to be clever and entertaining in our self-description. Hey, don’t you know I became a writer to avoid this kind of talk?

Of course, for those of us with few publications and up to now, no award-related things to mention, every bio was one of those “clever” ones. Feel my pain, prolific and prizeworthy poetess! :P

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