Bio writing is hard, yo! (spoiler: I’m teaching a creative writing class!)

by LP

Hi, my name is LP and I had to write a biographical blurb about myself and it was An Ordeal. How I got myself into this pickle? Let’s start at the beginning: a group of students started a creative writing group guild, where once a month a person teaches a class. They also have critique sessions, but since I haven’t written anything other than rambly blogposts since this summer, I haven’t participated in them yet. I have heard only good things about them though. So when I came back from the Berk, I offered to share my knowledge acquired and teach a class. What I hadn’t counted on, was the need for a head shot and a bio. Oops.

In my notebook next to my pillow, where I scribble things while I’m mostly asleep, I found the following “Note to self: never again decide on anything within two weeks of returning from California. Make sure to let the oppressive mediocrity and hopeless despair of your Dutch existence saturate every fiber of your being before offering to do things that require bios and headshots.” Apparently I’m still a bitter bitch when I’m ¾ asleep.

But as Buckaroo Banzai says “No matter where you go, there you are” and well, here I was. Fortunately, the headshot was taken by a professional photographer who not only has mad photography skillz, but who’s also a magician apparently, making me look alive and well on a day that I felt like death warmed up. So that only left me with the bio writing. Oy vey.

First, there’s the strange referring-to-yourself-in-the-third-person thing. Second, I am 38 years old. I have lived an… unconventional life? A detoured life? A crazy beautiful life? Oh no, wait, that’s Kesha. Let’s just say that my life hasn’t followed the traditional school – study – job – marriage – kids path and that I’ve done a lot of different things in my life up to now. How was I to select the parts that are relevant, while also giving an (as) accurate (as possible) description of myself? And third: why wasn’t I taught this stuff at school? I went to Montessori, I learned a lot of strange stuff, a class on “How to write about yourself in the third person” wouldn’t have stood out AND would have been very useful! I’ve yet to put my awesome macramé skills to good use.

Frustrated, I wrote down a first attempt:

<Actual Trufax IRL Name> studies English at the University of Amsterdam. Most days she wishes she didn’t and had gone to art school instead. Not that she knows how to draw, but apparently she doesn’t know how to English either. She used to be awesome at ballet and figure skating about 20+ years ago and still hasn’t been able to top that. She also had an actual job once, one that made money. Well, a bit of money. She co-wrote a book that sold, but it’s out of print now. Despite calling herself a zinester and a (pronounce this really fast) shitstorywriter, she hasn’t written a zine in 1 1/2 years because she has been Eaten By Academia, but hey, who’s counting? She loves to write suffers from a compulsive need to write and has finally made her peace with it. Also, she was clearly manic when she agreed to teach this class.

I thought it was HI-LA-RI-OUS, mostly because it’s super bitter and kinda sad. Yes, I have a strange sense of humor, especially when it comes to myself. Of course I didn’t send this one out, because although in essence it’s true, it’s also the most unflattering way of rendering that truth. A bio should be realistic, but not too bitter. Lighthearted but not too quirky. It should mention past accomplishments, but not be too has-been-y (or worse, too never-was-y). It shouldn’t be too modest, but also not too braggy. And most of all, it shouldn’t be too inside joke-y. Clearly, my first attempt failed on all points, which I think is pretty impressive.

So, after rewrite 2 to 78, I ended up with 145 words and the amazing sentence “When she grows up, she wants to be Buckaroo Banzai, but in the meantime she’s trying to avoid having to move into a van down by the river”. Which I then had to cut when chopping it down to 100 words. 😦

So, with the bio done, it’s on to the good part: the preparation and eventually the teaching of the class itself, which I’m REALLY looking forward to! Peeps interested in attending my class on Short Story Editing (it’s in Amsterdam on the 9th of April from 18:00 to 20:00, all ages and levels welcome), can email me at for deets.