The words which define me

For someone so awfully preoccupied with words, I have a hard time choosing the right ones to describe myself. I recently had to reconsider my “bio”, a short paragraph or two meant to act as a sort of introduction to new readers, or so they say. I’d already written one for when I made my guest blog post for Cynthia Robertson. It was a fine bio, certainly. It said what it needed to. But I’ve never been able to square with the notion of cramming “me” into a tiny string of letters, so it’s hard for me to remain comfortable with those sorts of things for long.

I know that’s really over-simplifying matters, far further than anyone ever should. A bio is only a tidbit. A taste. A minor selection of details that should, in theory, appeal to the sensibilities of the readers of that piece and give them just a little insight into the person behind the text. But what does it express? What does a bio convey to the public, the greater readers who don’t actually get to know you?

Am I the sum of my creations? No, the physical things I make are such a small part of me. Am I defined by the things which surround me? To an extent, that can be true. I got to thinking about this even harder after reading Angie McDonald’s post from her blog, All Adither. 15-word fiction offers a selection of super-tiny stories, giving an insight into something bigger with those bare fifteen words. They are much like micro-bios of a potential whole story. I even took a stab at writing my own.

She wore a guise of ink; staining her fingertips and injecting her body with art.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to come up with that. I had written and discarded several others which didn’t strike me as expressive or poignant, though I was probably just being too critical. This one fleeting line, though… I’m kind of in love. With the idea, with the women it’s about, a woman I am more than a little interested in crafting into a full character and finding her a home in a book. Regular readers and friends of mine will know I love meaningful tattoos, and artworks of all kinds, whether visual or written. She, clothed in ink, is a part of me and entirely separate.

If I spent a very long time, and gave myself a whole lot of poetic freedom, I might come up with a bio which accurately depicts me. At least in a way that I could feel more confident in. Perhaps. In the meantime, I did update the bio on the Who is Ashlee? page, and for the time being, I’m pleased with it.



8 thoughts on “The words which define me

  1. Words cannot express how much I suck at autobiography…if they could, then I probably wouldn’t. I think it probably says a lot that I find it easier to biograph 3 false identities than to properly write my own bio (though in my defense, 2 of those 3 are pretty much just my own yin & yang).

    1. I think there’s something to do with not wanting to tie ourselves into such a narrow description. And words can all be misunderstood. What if someone imagines you all the wrong ways because of their preconceptions about certain things you include?



  2. I’ve found the toughest thing about bios is that you have to alter them to fit particular needs and audiences. I have one version for humor audiences and another for women’s fiction (the two genres in which I generally write). I had an entirely different one when I wrote a YA novel.

    I just read yours and thought it was very well done, especially appropriate for your blog. I particularly liked reading about how you keep your sanity–a universal issue. (Ha!)

    1. That’s definitely something I’ve considered! Would a bio for fantasy (even of the darker predilection) carry over as a bio for horror? Maybe not!

      And thank you, Sherry! I must’ve done something right – I still like it. 😉


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