Today, I attended a lecture presented by a local writers group on the topic of writing your bio — that autobiographical blurb that appears on your book jacket, or your webpage, or in other places where you want to succinctly explain who you are and why anyone should pay attention to what you have to say or what you have to sell.
I went because, one, I am ready to start venturing back into the world of writers groups again — not necessarily a critique group, but just hanging out with other people who are doing the same thing I’m doing, and this seemed like a good place to start; and two, I’ve always been terrible at writing bios for myself. The speaker had good advice (though I really think the presentation could have been cut down by half the time), and I’m not going to do her the disservice of repeating her information here.
As I think about the rules she gave us for improving our own bios, I have realized that part of my problem with my own is that I am trying to be so many things at once. Fantasy writer, freelance editor, professional content marketer… how do you wrap all that up into a single paragraph?
It’s also an indicator of how I’m trying to redefine myself in this milestone year. Which of these multiple aspects of myself do I want to highlight, and which do I want to slough off? Maybe if write the right bio, it can be a guidepost for me, kind of like writing a mission statement for a business.
And this leads me to a novel idea.
When I was working out the plot for my WIP novel,1 I had very clear ideas about where Tierce and Romeric came from and what they were doing in the story (because of City of Bridges). Elerrin, though, was really a blank slate — I knew what kind of person I wanted her to be, but I didn’t have a specific background in mind. So I sat down over the course of a day or two and wrote up six different backgrounds for six different possible Elerrins. They were are really interesting, and I made sure that each background had plot threads that would lead into the development of the plot. Even though I ended up using the first one I wrote, it was a valuable exercise and I may go back and use some of those backgrounds for other characters.
But that’s getting sidetracked from my main point, which is that maybe this is a valid exercise I can use for myself. Not backstories, of course, and not even really futurestories. Just bios for potential Staces, exploring different models for how I might present myself, my talents, my passions. Deciding not only which one sounds best, but which one has the best plot threads I can pull on for the future.
So that’s what I’m going to focus on for my weekly blog posts for the next week. Six distinct and individual bios that will help me on my journey of self definition. I’m hoping to have some fun with it, indulge a little magic and fantasy along the way. But I hope I’ll come out of it with a useable bio that can also help guide me through the next few chapters of my ongoing story.