I have a hard time writing my byline. I have a hard time writing my author bio for the various query letters and synopsis and other items that are hopefully sent to agents and publishers. The two are separate entities, one tells folks who you are in 50 words or less. The author bio, introduces you to the writing world in just a little over fifty words. Give or take.
Either way, it’s a strange thing, to sit down and try to figure out what you stand for in so many words. To try and keep it short and sweet, introspective and catchy, insightful yet with a dash of mystery to it…all at the same time.
I bring this up because it’s time to revamp my byline for the magazines I write for.
And I’m procrastinating.
The best author bio I think I’ve ever written was when I was trying to become part of a Writer in Residence program here in my little corner of the world. I was so tired of being rejected, so tired of the thanks but no thanks letters that the exhaustion seeped into my bones and came out my fingertips. That bio was sweet, to the point and written with an angry, exhausted tilt. Crazy thing, it got me the gig.
“I am a writer.
Such a simplistic sentence for what I truly am though. I am also an entertainer, a keeper of stories others have shared with me. I am a researcher. I am an infrequent computer troubleshooter. I am a risk taker. I am a framer of acceptance letters, a collector of rejection notes, a typist. I am a dreamer. I am just one more in the long line of storytellers that will not quit until I have left my mark on the world in the form of stories.”
It holds as much truth now as it did when I first wrote it. But I don’t have that many words for my byline. Which brings me back to my ever present dilemma. Who am I in 40-50 words?
I have been pulling books out of my bookcases for inspiration, turning to my powerfully silent friends for their advice. I found a common thread among them all, a formula if you will. Most bios have:
Place of birth. List of fellowships, published books, and awards. List of recent jobs, mostly working for literary magazines and being guest speakers on NPR. Finally, the grand finale : S/He lives in (insert place name here) with her/his family.
So boring. No wonder I haven’t really ever read them before. They read like five page Christmas brag letters. Imagine if they were quips about a day in the life of the author instead. The real, unadulterated stuff of life.
Nicole Sharp woke at 6 am to the screaming of her toddler whose dire problem seemed to be that the “blankets were falling off”. After putting the fire out, she stumbled to her coffee pot and then proceeded to sit in front of her computer where she checked her bank balance, email, Pinterest, and then finally pulled up the book she’s working on. Wasting too much time trying to figure out the proper time line to ship a body from Colorado to Southern California (as she just killed off a character in her book); she rushed about to get earlier mentioned toddler ready for school and out the door on time, throwing a cheese stick said toddlers way in the hopes it was breakfast enough. From there, it was grocery time, where she slowly walked the glorious florescent lit aisles, breathing in the alone time and buying such literary items as flushable wipes, all purpose cleaner, a loaf of bread, foil, and ketchup. In that order.
Time took over and hurried Ms. Sharp back to pick up the toddler, cook lunch and lovingly toss the cranky child into bed for nap time. Then, she spent entirely too much time online trying to find a list of Author bios that had nothing to do with twitter, Instagram, the blogging world and Friendbook. Like a list of literary ‘about the author’ pages, famous ones. But no…stupid damn search engine wouldn’t produce the proper information. So she resigned herself to write a few paragraphs of a new book that is great right now, but upon the re-read in a few months will probably stink. (But that’s a different topic for another day.) There was vigorous dish doing and vacuuming in between the writing in honor of the procrastination gods. Finally, after making dinner for the family and damning the rapidity of the day, she curled up in front of the glowing blue hue of her tablet to binge watch reruns of New Girl until she fell asleep and a new day begins again.
She lives in Boise Idaho with her family.
Hmmmm…maybe less is more.
Nicole Sharp is a fiction writer. She thinks Jane Austen was/is awesome. She swigs coffee the way a pirate would whiskey. The writing of Arrested Development gave her faith in humanity. She is a purveyor of the perfect Italian Cappuccino and world travel. And she lives…