I'm not sure that I actively distrust people who enjoy writing bios, but I know that I am not one of them. I'm not entirely certain I speak their language.
The problem isn't that I can't write about myself -- this would be a very bare space indeed if that were so -- but I think I experience a lot of frustration and anxiety when confronted by a task that amounts to summing up my identity and accomplishments in a contextualized, appealing way in 100 words or less.
I'm bad at boxes. I struggle with feeling too large or too small, or sometimes a bit of both. I'll stare at my list of publication credits and wish, ridiculously, that some of those anthology titles could have been easier to abbreviate because now I'm being forced to choose. Do I tell people about my dogs? That I live 100 miles from my birthplace? My shoe size? That I am, in the words of a certain space-faring omnisexual, "available, very"?
After a while, after staring down a screen, I tend to realize that I'm banging my head against some absurd (but, let's be fair, understandable) desire to both justify my own existence and make myself seem amazing. I can't just write:
C.A. Young does cool things with words, even though he's kind of disorganized and prone to debilitating periods of anxiety and depression. He writes stories, essays, and poetry about things he's interested in -- wait, no, about things in which he is interested -- though he hasn't tried to send anything to a major genre publication in a while because of a really bad April when everybody sent him rejection letters kind of all at once. He should probably get over that eventually. That being said, he just spent nine months doing a self-produced subscription thing, has a novella out, and nice people sometimes ask him if he's interested in submitting to anthologies, so something must be working right. You can find him at his blog, where he talks about himself and complains about politics (unless his life is exploding because of his mother, or because he's doing too much, in which case he will take too long to e-mail you back even if you're one of his favorite people on earth). He has pets. He composts. He's also (re)learning to play the guitar, likes to paint sometimes, and is a binge crafter. Some, all, or none of this may make him more interesting to people.
Well, okay, I can. Because I just did. I'm just not sure the people on the receiving end of that would be impressed. Certainly some of the right people would get the joke (or possibly that it isn't a joke because for me levity is often really just a way of expressing a thing too big for me to say with a straight face), but enough of the right people wouldn't get what they want or need out of it.
I just loathe, I think, the particular duty that a writer's bio seems to present in terms of being a resume. So much about the way I engage the world is about a deep, often painful desire for connection -- ironic, given that writing is a typically solitary art -- and it feels unnatural to take a moment that in my head wants to be "Hello!" and put it in a suit and tie (or at least stick it in a nice pair of jeans and put a blazer over the nerdy t-shirt and hope it's enough for the judges).
And, of course, what I'm really doing is over-thinking. Which I do constantly about everything.
And yet, isn't that why I do what I do? Because otherwise, I'm not quite sure what the point of being the kind of person who sees the words "excessive shaking generates foam" on a bottle of craft paint and going, "there's a story in that somewhere!" could possibly be.
- Terri Windling (whose work you have almost certainly encountered if you like fantasy, even if you don't recognize her name) and her kin are in difficulties. There's an auction on LiveJournal to raise funds to assist. Go check it out.
- My friend Jean, who is often a bringer of great things on the Internet, linked me to a post on Crunchyroll about some manga biographies about historical figures scheduled for 2012. While not quite on a par in terms of sheer bafflement-inducing whiplash as the philosophers-as-schoolgirls Tsundere, Heidegger, and Me thing that came out a while back, I'm finding myself highly amused by some of the visual interpretation, and keep imagining badass fight scenes in which Elizabeth I goes sickhouse with that saber versus that very-nearly-bishounen Will Shakespeare.
- Molson's latest dual advertising campaign gives me rage. It is, at best, hipster sexism of the nudge-wink variety (which if anyone missed the memo is still sexism and still a dick move).
- Speaking of sexism, an earnest letter to men who don’t get why rape jokes are a problem. It even features a convenient flow chart that, while I'm not 100% sure I agree with it -- my comedic boundaries are tighter than the author's -- at least creates a framework for discussion.
- The senate voted 37-61 not to change or remove a provision from the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the US military to indefinitely detain civilians without charge or trial, including US citizens on US soil.
- On a lighter note, cat with cat pattern!
- I recently stumbled across Ben Greenman's Graphs About Charts And Charts About Graphs. I realize I'm a bit late to this particular party, but being the sort of person who is wired to find this kind of thing amusing, I was entertained.