Tag Archives: biography

What are you saying?

?Phil: We’ve been updating our biographies recently. Along with a manuscript and synopsis, these are documents every writer needs to have at their fingertips ready to go should Hollywood get in touch.

I’ve been prompted to do this because of another project I’m working on and the thing that strikes me is the subtlety of the language required. There are so many levels to the job – on the face of it you have a brief pen portrait of the person concerned but there is so much more to say.

As writers, we need to understand that however good your book is, it is the person who wrote it that will appear at literary festivals, be interviewed in the press and pop up on TV. A good, marketable writer will shift copies. Someone the audience can’t connect with will struggle.

So, we make much of our back story meeting at a quango and being made redundant. It’s a tale that many people can relate to and provides a positive spin and unusual outcome that has already appealed to the local press.

My biog mentions that I worked for “a vegetable research company that bears absolutely no resemblance to HIA in the book” with the obvious implication that it might have been, as well as letting the reader know we are writing what we know.

Candice on the other hand, includes something about half-marathons that doesn’t involve old choccie bars and “managing her husband and one year old daughter” as a way of reassuring people that we are “an unusual, non-romantic, couple” and it’s politer than saying “Look at our blog header, I’m the glamorous one. Of course I’ve done better than him!”.

I console myself that at the quango, even though I am the owner of a model railway, she still considered me the most interesting person to talk to. Which says something about everyone else…

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Write your story down, NOW

Galloway Forest (7), Lowlands, Scotand.Phil: Yesterday I visited Candice for the first time since her daughter Erin was born. Mother and baby are doing well although I think the little one was unimpressed with my stripy shirt clashing with her own on-trend stripy onesie.

When you look at a newborn child you are seeing a blank page. Their story has only just begun. It could be filled with adventure, hopefully with love, perhaps with misfortune. Like opening a novel, you never really know what is going to happen.

In contrast, a friend of mine, John, died last week. He was well over 80 and his story had reached its final page.

Along the way there were many twists and turns. He used to recount some of these to groups of friends occasionally. Much of his life had been spent in agriculture and the story I remember most involved his time as an agricultural contractor.

In the run-up to Christmas, he and his colleagues had been ploughing in Scotland. On Christmas Eve the job was finished and they had to return home with their machinery. This involved a journey of 500 miles. On tractors. Not your modern tractors either, old ones that rumbled along with a top speed of around 20 mph. You can imagine how long it took.

In a hurry to get home, if you can call riding a tractor a hurry, they drove through the night arriving early on the festive morning. To make matters more entertaining, it was mid winter in an era when we had serious winters.

John’s description of being bundled up in all the clothes he could muster and riding an aged agricultural machine were both funny and awe-inspiring.

Sadly, all those stories have gone now. As far as I am aware, they only exist in the memories of those he told them too.

Candice was talking about the importance of trying to write down some of her recent experiences. While we won’t turn this into a baby blog, you can be sure that some of these will influence our future writing either in novels or short stories. Whatever, it’s great to get memories down in print. Perhaps we should all write out own autobiographies. Maybe they won’t be blockbuster sellers, but maybe one or two people will read and enjoy them.

At least the memories will live on.

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