The Big Fat Lie…

Ellen Potter is, as usual, being brilliant. She’s decided to out all of us authors, for the half-truths we call “author bios.” She’s suggested we should all write honest author bios!

For contrast, my “professional” bio sounds something like this:

Laurel Snyder is the author of five books for children, two collections of poetry, and she edited an anthology of essays about the Jewish interfaith experience.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and a regular commentator for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Laurel now lives in Atlanta, in a little brick house full of wild beasts.

You see what we all do there?  Ellen’s right. We talk about how productive/smart/esteemed we are, and then we give it a punchy/silly/personal twist that suggests we’re human, but not too human!

Here’s an honest bio:

Laurel Snyder graduated from high school with a 2.4 GPA and was shocked when the University of TN at Chattanooga offered her a scholarship anyway. She will be forever grateful for that chance to live/learn/write poems/wait tables in such a lovely place, despite the lack of  heat or air conditioning in her apartment. It was a formative time, full of big new ideas, malt liquor, and ramen noodles.

Upon graduation, Laurel was accepted into the esteemed Iowa Writers Workshop, where she became fairly depressed–in part due to Midwestern winters, and in part due to her very esteemed classmates who made her feel like she knew very little about anything.  Though really, that was her fault and not theirs, and she accepts responsibility for that. In any case, she spent a few years after graduation NOT writing or publishing. Instead she dated recklessly and hung around in smoky bars with fun musicians.

Laurel’s  sole attempt to move to Manhattan and become a “real writer” lasted about four months.  Since giving up on becoming a “real writer” (and having an academic career too) she has worked a variety of waitress/Jewish non-profit jobs, gotten married, moved to Atlanta, and become a much happier person.

After her first child was born in 2005, Laurel was forced to quit her job, because she made less than a babysitter. At that time–crazed by spending 24 hours a day trapped in a house with a mewling (if  adorable) baby–she began to sort through old manuscripts and book ideas, and was shocked to discover that people were actually interested in publishing her books. In an attemept to become even more succesful, she had another child!

Laurel does not make much money, and her life isn’t very glamorous. She has a very part-time childcare situation, and she shares her office with her husband, a washer/dryer, and a pile of toys and dirty clothes.  She rarely has time to shower more than every other day, never shaves her legs, forgets about the cat-box until it becomes problematic for everyone,  and she clips a lot of coupons.  She lives in a sprawling huge city, far from her own family, and that makes her a little sad. But she has amazing kids, a great husband, and wonderful friends, so she is, in fact, terribly grateful for everything.

Except the lice! Laurel wishes she could go back in time and NOT have head lice as a kid.  That was just awful!

17 Responses to “The Big Fat Lie…”

  1. Frume Sarah Says:

    Though your official bio retains your personality while conveying the facts, there is no question that your version is a lot more fun.

  2. Kelly Barnhill Says:

    Love this! Millions and millions of love.

    May be forced to do something similar on my own blog. One of the problems for those with inclinations towards fiction is that we have a tendency to storify everything, including ourselves. We look for arcs and rates of revelation and dramatic irony. Best to be honest. I’ll attempt to do it too.

  3. Tweets that mention Laurel Snyder » Blog Archive » The Big Fat Lie… -- Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LaurelSnyder, LaurelSnyder and Claudia Osmond, Nova Ren Suma. Nova Ren Suma said: RT @LaurelSnyder: I did an extended version of my honest author bio: Inspired by @ellenpotter & @novaren [...]

  4. Ellen Potter Says:

    This is my favorite author bio to date. Thank you, Laurel, for the kind words, but really, back at you tenfold.

  5. david e Says:

    i treid to go for a more honest bio on my blog, but after reading yours i can see where i still pulled my punches. there are still some dark places i’m not ready to revisit. but i like this, and i wish more writers didn’t feel the need to gussy up their bios.

  6. Monica Says:


    I LOVE your honest bio, it’s funny, fresh and truthful. Your bravery is noted, dear! Keep it up because it’s awesome!!


  7. Alice Says:

    I like the second one better. : )

  8. In Which Kelly Barnhill Admits to Lying. Again. | Kelly Barnhill: Author, Teacher, Mom. Says:

    [...] to Lying. Again. Posted on July 29, 2010 by kellybarnhill Thanks to the lovely and talented Laurel Snyder and the equally lovely and talented Ellen Potter, who have both stared unflinchingly into the [...]

  9. Kelly Barnhill Says:

    I did it! My new author bio has pimples and bad breath and difficulty holding down a job. So there!

  10. Ilana Stanger-Ross Says:

    This is amazing, Laurel! Totally true — the phoney bio part, and the lice part (now revisiting buried childhood memory of my straight-haired best friend telling me curly hair was “dirty” and that’s why I got lice.)

  11. Patricia Cruzan Says:

    I expect many of us have held other jobs besides writing. Thank you for letting us see your human side.

  12. adhocmom Says:

    I really would like to be friends with the second version of you. Sounds a lot more like me. Midwestern winters kicked my ass!!!! Seriously, could the sky be a more depressing shade of grey? No offense Wisconsin. . I still love you.

  13. Suniverse Says:

    What a great bio. I would totally buy MORE books from an author who wrote that about herself.

  14. Heather Kephart Says:

    Laurel, you ROCK! I loves me some authenticity.

  15. Callie Feyen Says:

    For someone who is new to writing, this bio is truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing it!

  16. Kaethe Says:

    I love the second bio! I’ll also note that I always read the author bios on books, and I really like when children’s book authors connect the bio to the work. “Laurel has never been a pig, but she did date a few in college. They were not kosher.”

  17. Writer Unboxed » Blog Archive » Using Facebook to Amplify Your Reach (and Not Annoy People) Says:

    [...] 5.Be a little vulnerable. It’s much easier to like someone when they have flaws. (Here’s a good example of this when it comes to writing bios!) [...]

Leave a Reply