Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Writer: A Bio

Writing a bio about yourself is a strange thing that never seems to get easier. It doesn't matter if it's a bio for a book, a blurb, or a blog--it's just unnerving. Do you try to be witty? Do you merely state the facts? (And if you do, do you list them? State them in a paragraph? Make a flow chart?) Should you write the bio in the first person or the third person? Should you talk about your personality or limit the bio to your publications and/or other claims to fame? Nobody seems to have a good answer, and everyone disagrees on this point. Sometimes a boring bio is all you want to read, but at other times a witty one can be so refreshing. (Sigh. What to do?)

The story of this writer is a fairly simple one. My name is Jennifer Levine. I grew up mostly in Houston, TX, but my family moved around a lot, allowing me to see from an early age that much of what people considered to be Important and Necessary was... well... not. A house? Any old house could become a home. Possessions? Those could be bought anew in the next city we moved to. Books? Well, books were something else. Books were Important. This my parents taught us (me, my brother, and my sister) from an early age. Books could entertain you, could teach you, could cheer you up on a bad day. And writing? This, too, was Important.

And so I grew up with my head always in a book and with my mind (and later my hands, once I learned to write) always creating. I came up with stories about real people around me, like when I "figured out" why the neighbor never answered the door (he was a serial killer!), and I also made up stories all the time, complete with intricate plots and stellar (stick figure) drawings. I could never be bothered with Boring Adult Things, and so when I wasn't making up stories, I was always reading reading reading, carrying books with me to social events, friend's houses, and shopping malls.

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. When people asked me, until recently, what I wanted "to be" when I was "grown up," my answer would be that I wanted to be a writer. But then one day a kind man said to me, "Are you a writer?"

I was flustered; I stuttered; I said I didn't understand the question. He smiled and said, "You either are a writer or you're not. Which one is it?"

This baffled me--I hung my head and said, "I guess I'm not a writer. I've never been published."

The man shook his head. "I didn't ask if you were an author. I asked if you were a writer."

I thought about this. If my writing never gets published, will I still write? Of course I will. "Then I guess I am a writer," I answered, "though not yet an author."

The man smiled again. And then he said something even more baffling: "Most people I ask don't consider themselves, at their core, to be writers. It's nice to meet you, Jennifer the writer."

The point is, here I am. I am a writer. I am not (yet) a published author, but I am, always have been, and always will be a writer. I write. It's what I do. And I read. There are so many authors who inspire me and leave me feeling intensely awed and humbled, and so I write and write and try to improve my writing so that someday, hopefully, I will be that writer author inspiring others.

And until that day, I will remain


Jennifer (the writer)

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