Thursday, December 9, 2010

Creating a Bio

Pre-Post Note: This is a rather long one, but hopefully worth the read!

The other day my youngest brother mentioned that he needed to put together a bio for a new website and was wondering what he should put in it. Unfortunately, he asked his snarky, oldest brother who initially came up with "Tall?" This was followed by such useful suggestions as: "Patriotic. Not an evil-doer. Low-life. (Actually, don't use that last one...)"

Ultimately, I did send him something more practical and then gave him a final edit, since I do tend to be quite helpful in real life (as opposed to how I am in fake life).

Anyhow, this got me thinking... I need to put together a new bio here at the Ducks. And by "a new bio," I naturally mean "a bio," since I really don't have one. I added an "About Me" section, but really haven't done much with it. (Well, let's be realistic here... I've barely had time to make any new posts for a while. This labor-of-love of mine doesn't bring in any income, which means that it takes a backseat to other endeavors.)

So today we are going to help the Ducks guy put together a bio!! (Everyone cheers wildly.) (Um, if you aren't cheering right now, you might want to start or you'll feel like a loser. Just sayin'.)

Note: We are going to do this while skipping the phrase "obsessed with Justin Beiber."

Note to the previous note: Okay, I know I mention that kid in every other post, but it has more to do with my obsession about everyone else's obsession with him. (At least, that's what I tell myself.)

Moving on...

I am the quintessential INFP, using Myer-Briggs personality typing (MBTI), so maybe we should look there for some content? Let's see. "Creative." Check. "Original and individualistic." Check. "Extremely, totally, very ridiculously good-looking." ("Wait it doesn't say that at all in any INFP profile," they all say. "Shush," I say in response.) Check.

Okay, here's the problem with using INFP stuff... I could just cut and paste the entire description of an INFP and it would fit. But doing so would describe any INFP and I'm more than just that! (Take note of the "original and individualistic" part above.)

Quick digression: If you are familiar with MBTI and know your type, please leave a comment and let me know what it is. I'm rather curious about this. If you don't know, you should take the test (link to a free source found in
the very first Ducks post). It can help you understand A) yourself, 2) others, D) how you relate with others, E) how to solve conflict with others. All in all, highly valuable stuff. I use it all the time to try and understand where other people -- especially those who see the world completely different from me -- are coming from. Seriously, cannot recommend it enough.

Back to me!

Well, a good bio typically includes a bit of background, right? I was born in Milwaukee, lived in WI until I was 18, at which point I came to MI to go to college. I've been here since. A good bio also includes interests, so let's think about that a second. Writing is a major one, natch. I coach water polo and play rec soccer. I conduct “Cat Obedience” classes. I teach Vietnamese to affluent Dutch senior citizens. I tinker in the realm of nuclear physics... What's that? You think I just made up these last three? Pffff, as if I'm that creative.

(Oh, you're saying that I clearly identified myself as "creative" four paragraphs ago? *silence as he fruitlessly searches for a rebuttal*)

My bio so far: On a bright, sunny day in the Summer of '78, I was welcomed into the world. Immediately, I went to work developing my personality, crafting my intellect and solving all the problems of modern society. Unfortunately, I had no way of conveying my genius ideas to the large, usually-smiling figures around me, so I cried, ate and slept a lot. Occasionally, I smiled back. Fin.

Well, that pretty much covers the first twenty years of my life. All this hard work is making me want to eat, sleep and cry. Maybe I should call it a day.

Never! Let's pick it back up from the end of that last section.

... I smiled back. I spent the first twelve years of my life in the city of Milwaukee. I walked the mean streets and grew tough and surly. I developed an addiction to candy and booze.

Editor's note: Only the first sentence is true. He was never tough or surly. And he actually preferred fruit over candy. We're not sure about the booze part, though. You have to admit, it would explain a lot.

... The hard knock life I lived later became the inspiration for a Jay-Z song: "H.O.V.A." (You probably expected me to say it was his "Hard Knock Life" song, but that would be historically inaccurate.) My family moved out of Milwaukee, but we pretty much stayed in SE Wisconsin. During high school, I went to classes, swam on the swim team (which makes more sense than "played running back on the swim team" or "swam for the basketball team"), and ran cross country. I also invented a cure for polio. Unfortunately, someone beat me to it.

Editor's note: His cure for polio was "just don't get it in the first place."

... After high school, I spent years studying the bush people in western Michigan. It turned out to be an elaborate research project and later was recorded in my autobiography "How Stella Got Her Groove Back."

Editor's note: "years studying the bush people in western Michigan" actually means "years attending Hope College in Holland, Michigan."

... While at Hope, I was on the varsity swim team for four years. I wasn't particularly fast, but I tried my hardest and hopefully that counts for something. When not swimming or studying, I played a lot of frisbee golf and ate a lot of pizza. (It's rare that I use the phrase "a lot" twice in the same sentence, but it applies in both cases.) During the summers, I worked for a plumbing company, as previously has been mentioned here at the Ducks. School and my summer job both provided an abundance of growth for me. I learned so much in those two different worlds.

Editor's note: No real reason for a note this time. He was fairly spot-on there.

... After school, it took me a little while to find my way in this world. I did start coaching water polo back in 2001. One of my best friends from the Hope swim team took the position of head coach and offered me the chance to become the JV coach. I'm glad he did, because it's actually an important part of my life.

Editor's note to Writer: Hey, aren't you going to mention something about writing? You define yourself as a writer, so you should probably say a bit about that in your bio.

Writer's note to Editor: Normally I loathe you, but that is a good point.

... I am a writer. I realized my love of -- and talent for -- the craft while in college. One of the greatest compliments I ever received came from our campus' beloved Poetry professor, the nationally-recognized Jack Ridl. I received a completely unexpected email from Professor Ridl saying "John, you are a writer." He went on to express his hope that I always continue to write. Ever since, I've constantly strengthened my grasp of the craft and continue to love it. I do a lot of writing in a lot of different ways. (Maybe it's not so rare that I use "a lot" more than once in the same sentence...)

Writing has become quite important to me.

Now, I was well-aware of the fact that becoming a best-selling author is not particularly realistic to expect, so I stumbled for a while trying to figure out how to make sense of the natural talent I've been given and how to use it. It was only a couple of years ago now when I realized that there are so many avenues for writing beyond just novel writing. So I'm working on that. I have a lot to offer in this area and if I don't make use of it, my skills would just be wasted. But that isn't going to happen on my watch!

Let's see, that's a lot about me and how I got here. I'm actually quite a private person, but I feel comfortable with posting all of this. Well, after all, this is MY blog! :)

My bio isn't complete without mention of my family. My lovely little wife is probably even more private than I am -- which is saying a lot! -- so I'll just mention that I love her dearly. I have two stepsons, who are a lot like sons to me now, and two cats, who are a lot like cats to me now. And, of course, there is Tweak Dog, who I rescued about eight years ago.

Beyond immediate family, I have a lot of important people in my life (brothers, sisters, father, grandpa, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.), but that will have to be another post for another day...

(This one is already long enough as it stands!)

Warm regards!


  1. That's a lot of interesting info (just had to put in that rarely used phrase). I appreciate the effort :)

    Bio's are really hard - especially for us introverts - to come up with. I'm an INFJ - counselor. Not surprisingly the MBTI suggested I go into Social Work for a career. Good, because that's what I got my degree in.

    I did notice you failed to mention what degree your four years at college netted you, and how you wound up as a freelance writer. Is this the career of your choice?

    Oh Boy; I could be here all day with questions :)


  2. You are so funny! Your editorial comments make me LMAO. I'm sorry, but the bush people of Michigan? Brilliant.

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  4. Okay. I LOVE STELLA!

    Your life story is very...colorful. And what a coincidence that we both thought of a cure for polio! (Notice I didn't say we "invented" a cure)

    I don't think your significant other would appreciate being referred to as "little". Unless you truly can fit her in your pocket, which I'm thinking you probably can't.

    You're a NUT. You know that? A funny, insane NUT.


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