I write poems.
I submit poems to literary journals.
Sometimes my poems are accepted by a literary journal, which responds with a very nice note and—ACK!—a request for a biographical note.
We all have things we love to do, even though there may be elements of the doing that we don't love. I love writing first lines. I love the buffing and glossing, the rock-polishing of a new poem. I love packing my little gems in their electronic pouches and sending them off to market. And hoo-boy, I'll admit it: I love acceptance letters.
What I do not love is the subsequent, inevitable request for the biographical note. Send us a few words about yourself, the editor might write. Our readers report that our Bios page is one of the things they love most about our magazine. Eeep! All that labor of buffing and polishing, and the readers want to know about the quarry?
I have a stock version, a version that would make a Mad Lib fan very happy. It goes something like this: [name] is the author of [title]. Her [plural noun] have appeared in many [another plural noun], including [title] and [another title]. She lives in the State of [noun]. Filled in, this might read something like Nancy Carol Moody is the author of Please Please Please Don't Make Me. Her rough drafts have appeared in many trash cans, including The Kitchen Trash Can and The Hall Closet Trash Can. She lives in the State of Dishabille.
Despite the contradictory evidence of my self-promotional website and a couple of self-indulgent blogs, I'm not much for showing my cap, much less feathering it. (No, really. Truly. Really really truly.) But in the interest of satisfying those wonderful editors who pull my work out of the slush and place it in their journals for their readers—my readers—to discover, I offer a tip of my cap, this new, upgraded version of my bio note. Trust me on this—I've dug deep:
NANCY CAROL MOODY was born on one of the stormiest nights of the decade,
the hospital running in the dim of generator power. It is entirely possible
that in all the chaos the name tag was switched on Moody's bassinet
and that she is actually the child of fantastically rich, though not necessarily famous, parents.
Her family included 11 invented siblings and Anita, a much-loathed imaginary friend.
Moody's childhood was marked by several traumatic incidents, including having mispronounced
the word "jealous" in the second grade (much to the mocking delight of her classmates)
as well as the unfortunate spillage of a contraband box of Red Hots
during third-grade arithmetic class. On more than one occasion she stole paper
from the teachers' storage cubbies at Our Lady of Guadalupe School.
Moody has a B.A. in Psychology, which explains nothing. And everything.
She has trouble distinguishing east from west, though right and left are rarely a problem.
The round mole on her shoulder has been removed, but left her with
a lifetime of anxiety in the presence of polka dots.
She also suffers from intermittent phantosmia, olfactory hallucinations
which cause her to smell cigarette smoke when it isn't there,
and she likes to believe the twitch in her nose is a consequence of her plastic surgery, though others tend to roll their eyes when she suggests this may be the case.
She prefers that strangers ask before they touch her hair.
Moody loves the combined smell of popcorn and new rubber in the waiting room
of Les Schwab Tires, the sound of a squealing fan belt, the heft
of a Swiss Army knife, and salt on her ice cream.
The children's book, Love You Forever, will forever and ever make her cry.
Nancy Carol Moody
I'm a poet and a letter-writer. Yup, that kind. The kind who uses pens and paper and actual stamps. The kind who will leave the house with nothing on the agenda but to get to the mailbox before the scheduled pick-up time. The kind who understands that technology is a wondrous thing, but nothing quite beats finding a real letter with a real stamp on it amid the credit card solicitations, pizza coupons and seminar catalogs.