I have a lot of bios floating around the internet, tucked beneath one article or another. Some are painfully serious (“Tori Telfer graduated MAGNA CUM LAUDE from…”), but most are fairly self-deprecating. In these bios, I like to hint at the “diversity,” the “range” of my writing — which is somehow both huge and not terribly impressive.
In these bios, I mention that I’ve written website copy for products like steel-plated German cuticle “nippers.” I say that I’ve blogged about orthopedic high heels, and that I used to get $10 per juice-themed blog post (“Whip up this strawberry-beet concoction for a Valentine’s Day glow!”). I talk about how I’ve ghostwritten “thought leadership” articles for people I’m pretty sure were on cocaine, researched old-school serial killers, and edited short stories for six-year-olds, all in the same day. I contain multitudes! — and I mean that as less of a reference to Walt Whitman and more of a reference to the science book I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, available on Amazon Prime for $16.12 as we speak. In other words, my career = more practicality, less poetry.
Sometimes I wonder why I insist on packing my bios full of such un-artistic stuff. I’ve done some fairly cool things — I could wrangle together an “impressive” bio. (“Tori Telfer once made ricotta from scratch!!!!”) And yet anytime an editor asks for a bio to run under my latest article or interview or whatever, I’m back to my old tricks: Tori Telfer has written about This Topic That was Clearly a Gig She Just Did for a Paycheck, and That Topic Which Is Kind of Hilarious if Taken Out of Context but Was Actually a Job So Soul-Sucking and Boring That it Made Her Cry. Still, I didn’t really stop and think about the motivation behind all this odd un-branding until one of my “jokey” bios got slapped on the back of my very first audiobook. (Which you can buy on Audible. For $34.99.)
Suddenly I felt embarrassed about the work I had never been all that embarrassed about. Should I have been a bit less open about the, uh, steel-plated German cuticle nippers? Should I have branded myself as more of… an artist?