Thursday, May 31, 2007


The Dreaded Writer's Bio

Have you ever been asked to write a short biography? Maybe an artist's bio, or a writer's bio, to go with some event or publication or presentation you're making? This drives me nuts on so many levels. First of all, who cares? Who cares who I am and what I've done in the past? Can't my work just speak for itself?

My writers' group had a public reading in May and I was asked to write the Dreaded Writer's Bio. I refused. Yes, it was snotty of me, and completely not kind to the MC. She took it well and introduced me as someone who didn't want a big introduction. Part of my squeamishness about being introduced with a bio is that I'm always introducing myself during presentations at work. I'll just say my name and my title and launch into my topic and people can judge for themselves whether I know what I'm talking about. My other problem with writing a bio is that each audience is different and I can't divine what each wants to know about me. Do they care about my education, my accomplishments, my interests, my family? It's complicated and a four to five sentence bio doesn't do anyone's life justice, so why bother?

On the other hand - and there's always another hand, isn't there? - I enjoy reading author and artist bios. Even if they are only a few sentences. The bio, along with the work itself, always lead me to more questions about the artist or writer, which I think is a good thing. It means I'm interested.

Maybe it's just that I have difficulty with self-promotion. It seems so self-serving. (Well, duh, that's what it's supposed to be!) But, as a kid I was taught not to be boastful, and writing a bio feels a hair's breadth away from boasting.

So, then, Dear Readers, have you ever been in the position of writing a bio? What do you think of the experience? How do you get through it? What do you want to know about your favorite artists and writers?

P.S. And, yes, I did write the bio for this blog, but I felt the way I've just described while doing it.

P.P.S. I suggested to the writers in my group that next year we trade names and we'll write each other's biographies, rather than do it ourselves.

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