We here at Olivia Waite can talk blithely about anything, especially ourselves—but like everyone, as soon as we’re asked, “Sum yourself up in ten sentences or fewer,” we freeze right up and the only facts that come to mind are thinks like our place of birth and Social Security number which even we are not gullible enough to put out there on the internet.
So it was nice to read this lovely piece on author bios in The Millions and realize this sort of anxiety is universal. What if I have no writing credits or fancy awards to name-drop? What if my employment history does not sound quirky and well-rounded when put in the form of a list?
And in the spirit of sharing, here are a few of my first attempts at writing my own author bio, discarded for what ought to be obvious reasons:
Olivia Waite has had a pretty uneventful life, all things considered. Except for four years of college, she has lived her whole life in the same city in which she was born—and those four years didn’t take her abroad or even out of state. She regrets nothing.
Olivia Waite wishes she could tell you she wanted to be a writer as soon as she learned about books, but this would be a filthy lie. She wanted to be a paleontologist because it involved both dinosaurs and long words that were hard to pronounce and that all the grown-ups found impressive. By third grade she’d changed her mind and wanted to be a librarian, but her mother told her that librarians don’t make any money. Being literal-minded and a little too credulous for her own good, Olivia thought her mother meant that librarians were unpaid, and so she abandoned this path in despair. Once in college Olivia floundered through a series of retail positions in the book world and teaching assistantships in graduate school before it occurred to her that making money wasn’t really her highest priority anyways.
Olivia Waite was offered a publishing contract on her second-ever query letter. She knows that revealing this information will expose her to scorn and ridicule, but she also feels she deserves punishment because she does not have the obligatory mile-high stack of rejection letters. In short, she feels like a fraud. She also tends to play the martyr more than she should. You can send snark and vituperations to firstname.lastname@example.org—but don’t worry, her next book will probably be unpublishable and then she can start collection rejections like all the other hopeful authors.
Olivia Waite likes sex, likes reading about sex, and likes writing about sex. Maybe it’s because she was raised Catholic; maybe it’s because of all the naughty things the ancient Greeks and Romans got up to in all those classical texts she studied; maybe it’s because she’s just a naturally prurient person. Either way, writing erotic romances allows her to talk about sex, indulge her love of happy endings, and legitimately research porn and corsetry on the internet. Win!