I’m convinced that there’s nothing harder, for a writer, than writing about yourself.
Personally, I can do a whole book, I have done whole books, I’ve just published a whole book, and they all took effort, but somewhere, deep down, the words were there. But ask me to write a bio, ask me to write one paragraph about myself, and I’ll be staring at a blank page for the rest of my life.
I’ve spoken with enough other writers to know this isn’t just me. I’m not the only one who freezes filling out the “About Me” section of any site or social media profile. I don’t know what it is about writers that we almost prefer writing about other things, other people than ourselves. I take that back. We absolutely prefer writing about other people. Probably because other people seem a lot more interesting than us.
I know that’s the reason for me. For some, growing up the middle child means turning into the rebel who acts out for attention. For me, it did the exact opposite. I grew up with the feeling that the best thing I could was not be a nuisance. That is, not draw attention to myself. And I’ve seen how that has followed me into adulthood.
So, it’s no surprise that in a situation where I’m actually the center of attention, I have utterly no idea what to do. It also doesn’t help that my sister tells me I need to get better at “pimping” myself. (Yes, that is the verb she uses.) Except, I do need to. I need to know how to talk about myself. Because I have a book, and the only way to sell a book is to talk about it. And I’m getting better at that. But it’s not just the book.
I think, if we had our choice, when writing a bio, every writer would like nothing more than to let their work speak for itself. But it doesn’t work that way. It’d be great to cultivate this air of mystery: the enigmatic writer without a face. How terribly romantic. But it doesn’t work that way.
If you care about something, you need to talk about it. I realized that with my book. As much as I might want to approach the whole endeavor with a sense of quiet humility. Like, “Oh, it’s just something I put together. Read it, if you like.” That doesn’t really do justice to the work itself, or the amount of effort I put into it.
If I value my work, I have to praise it. I have to put it front and center. I have to get annoying about it.
And as much as I’d like to let it be in the spotlight alone, I can’t. Because if you care about something, you need to talk about it. And, I’m learning, that includes me.
But more than learning to talk about myself is learning how to talk about myself.
I had to write a bio for my book. And, naturally, I agonized over it. How much to include, how much to leave out. Could I, conceivably, get away with sarcasm? Are hashtags permitted? How to explain to people where I am, where I came from, so that they’ll understand me. But, more than that, so they’ll understand I’m not done yet.
I wrote a book about dealing with hard times, and the last thing I want anyone to think is that it’s all behind me. So I tried to include that.
It ended up reading something like: “Everyone thought he was brave, except him.”
I gave my bio to an author friend for advice, and she threw that line back in my face. Because she knew I was better than that. I wasn’t done, but I wasn’t where I had been. This was the same author friend who only just today reminded me that it’s not a sin to be brave, to put fear aside and claim authority over the things you write.
So, I rewrote it. “Everyone thought he was brave, and he is learning to believe them.”
And that’s my bio, the one in my book, the one on my author page on Amazon and Goodreads. And I’m finding I like it more than I did at first. It’s growing on me, which, I’m learning, is just how it works. That’s my story.
Because that’s the other thing. It’s going to change. There will be other books. Other bios. So I better get used to writing them. Nothing changes overnight, but things do change. You get used to things. You learn it’s no sin to be confident in yourself.
And maybe you don’t know that yet. I don’t some days. But you will. You will get there.
Because you are worth it. And you are learning how to believe that.