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One of the things you're asked to do if anyone ever gives you a break and runs your work in their magazine or website or whatever literary jerk-off fantasy they're having while running mad with power because they can reject people's stuff is to provide a bio.
Rules for writing an author bio.
It must be written in the third person. This sustains the illusion that you are a person important enough that other people know and care about where you have been published before. But also, now you have to write about yourself as though you don't know you and honesty is discouraged. So if you've ever bothered to read a writer's bio and seriously why would you? They're boring and full of stupid shit like how many dogs they own, know that it was written by the writer.
It must say what you do for money. Make sure to spin your job, if you have one, into something writer-related. If you're an admin assistant at a shitty office, you're a freelance writer. If you're a dental hygienist, you're a freelance writer. If you work in a call centre, you're a freelance writer. If you're a meth dealer you're a business writer, if you work in a liquor store you're a poet. If you're an actual mental patient like I am, you can be a freelance writer and a poet. Keep those bases covered.
It must say where you have been published before. Get creative! The poem you wrote for your friend's zine is a thing they paid you for. That update you made to a company newsletter is a freelance writing clip. Comments you made on porn you watch is a contribution to a sex-positive e-zine.
It must say where you went to school. That Learning Annex 'Free Your Soul' memoir-writing class you took because your friend's hot mom was the instructor? It's now part of your “working toward my MFA” or even just, “MFA from (insert name of university closest to you geographically).” No one's going to care enough to google you.
It must say where you live. I think this is a rule only because I've seen it a bunch of times but who actually fucking cares? No one. Your grandmother maybe.
It must say who you live with and also pets. I don't give a fuck ever about who a writer is married to and how many dogs they have. I would care if the writer lived in a polygamous colony that raised weasels or something because that's funny but otherwise, STFU. But for serious you are supposed to write that shit.
So my actual bio reads thusly:
ROXANNA BENNETT is a Canadian freelance writer and poet whose work has appeared in Descant, Existere, The Antigonish Review, CV2, Gender Focus, Boxx Magazine and Bitch Magazine. She studied Creative Writing at the University of Toronto and lives with her partner and son in Toronto, Ontario. Her first book of poetry 'The Uncertainty Principle' is forthcoming in 2014.
What my bio should say is this:
ROXANNA BENNETT dropped out of experimental art school because stupid. She had a baby out of wedlock while homeless and on welfare because: see stupid. Also lots of drugs. She currently lives on her couch where she has resided for the past 7 years because trauma crazy. Look for her forthcoming imaginary book of a decade old collection of poetry but don't waste money on it because: see stupid.
ROXANNA BENNETT is a 13 time graduate of group therapy. She is the only patient to have received twelve week trauma therapy for two consecutive years. While electroshock treatment has been strongly recommended, Bennett's disorders are treatment resistant. Her current list of medications include but are not limited to: tranquilizers, mood-stabilizers, anti-depressants, amphetamines and occasional opiate abuse.
ROXANNA BENNETT is a Canadian mental health consumer and the recipient of long-term disability insurance. Her work has appeared in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy worksheets, daily activity logs, trauma journals and uncomfortable tear-filled silences. She studied Acting Like These Hallucinations Are No Big Deal, How to Hide Your Eating Disorder, Places You Can Cut Yourself That No One Will Notice, Screaming on the Inside and Serotonin Withdrawal Syndrome Symptom Management. Look for her upcoming work in Leaving the House Without Screaming and Showering for More Than Three Consecutive Days in a Row.
To recap: Lie.
Rules for Author Photos
Not only do writers invent their own bios but they are also responsible for getting their own photo taken, presumably by someone who knows how to use a camera. Not a Tindr selfie either, you dirty dog. Use your home pornography equipment to take moody portraits. Why anyone wants to know what a writer looks like is beyond me, see the part above re: social skills. If writers were physically attractive and sexy they probably wouldn't be writing, they'd be raking in cash as escorts/actors. And even if a writer happens to be physically attractive and sexy in person, a writer photo makes them look like a subterranean Moloch who has scratched their way to the surface to pose for one awkward photo.
It should be serious. For fuck's sake, do not smile. Writing is serious business. Scrunch up your face like you're a shrunken apple head doll or you are super constipated. If you don't wear glasses, find a pair because glasses make you smarter. Also, if you aren't white, now would be a good time to be white and also a dude, ideally. A constipated, bespectacled, serious very heterosexual looking dude, is what you're aiming for.
It should be black and white. Everyone knows black and white film is more serious than colour. By serious I mean boring which is how you want to look. Boring and also like you could talk for a long time about things no one gives a shit about like historical materialism or objective idealism or..........ugh fuck, I fell asleep trying to type that sentence.
It should be full colour. Everyone knows colour is better than black and white. It makes you look young and current and relatable. Also now is a good time to be a woman, preferably a white woman. Not too pretty because no one will want to read your shit because they'll think you're too dumb to write anything good but plain and bookish looking.
It should show you wearing writerly clothes. Turtlenecks, or sweater vests or some kind of colourful scarf especially if you are a woman and obviously bought the scarf while you were on a trip to some village to be a Great White Saviour of the so-called underprivileged.
It should ideally look nothing like you. See above, about being attractive. The goal here is to be completely unrecognizable. The best solution really is to use a photo of someone else. For instance find a constipated, bespectacled, serious very heterosexual looking dude, who is already dead, and use their photo instead.
To recap: Writers are ugly.