Bio

Tonight we dine with old school friends. Although I don’t feel old and I’m sure they’d say the same. But we graduated in 1985 so I reckon the adjective is apt.

Our school year was close. The Husband and I met in english class on day one of year 11. We found ourselves in the same small discussion group. I forget what we were supposed to be discussing but I remember someone quipping “well we all know who’ll be the leader of that group”.

Startled, I wondered how someone I’d never met knew about my tendency to take control. Then I realised he wasn’t talking about me but another student. A lad. A lad as confident, vocal and opinionated as me it turned out. I realised I’d met my match. He was also very funny and could sing. So I married him. (Not then, but the seed had been sown.)

We weren’t the only ones. Nearly a dozen marriages sprouted from our senior year at high school. These days we don’t hang out together so much, so we’ll cover a lot of catch-up territory before we get down to the business of bad jokes and ribbing.

And no-one enjoys the catch-up phase. It involves updating the bio, condensing where you’re at and what you’ve done to a few pars. It involves too much self-examination and self-promotion. What episodes do you highlight? What disappointments do you keep to yourself?

Which leads me to this.

Good news

Yesterday an editor emailed “It’s a lovely story. Yes please. We’ll publish it.” I had to read it three times. More than two weeks had passed since I submitted the article and I’d given up expecting a response, let alone a positive one. I yelped, as did the dog when I ran over his tail with my chair. At 15 cents per word I’m not about to give up my day job, but it’s still a thrill to have a credible publication welcome my work. It’s grist for the freelancer’s mill.

The only sticking point was their requirement for a bio; 50 words and a pic. I reviewed past editions and found the bios there intimidating, with words like “published” and “award-winning” peppered liberally throughout. Some had brazenly gone well beyond the 50-word limit. I struggled to reach seven for mine.

My first draft read as follows:

Angela Bensted is a freelance writer who lives in Brisbane, Australia (I have delusions of an international readership). She contributes to Your Time Magazine and her notes to the teacher are widely circulated in the staff room. In her mid-40s she turned her back on a successful career as her family’s chief cook and bottle-washer to become a writer. Her ambition is to have a more impressive writer’s bio.

Fortunately The Socialite was home to lend an editorial hand and we stripped this draft of its wit. A staid and standard blurb will appear beside my article when it’s published.

But it took me five drafts to find the right words. Much as it will take a few wines to summarize what I’ve been up to for the old school friends at dinner tonight.

I think I’ll go and pour one now.

For the record

The Athlete is in Germany for training before her next competition, camped at a youth hostel which she describes “as basic as I ever want to stay in”. There are no cooking facilities so she has to eat the continental breakfast provided. She’s concerned that bread and milk make her gassy but concludes it doesn’t really matter. “The boys are disgusting anyway.”

Technical rehearsal for The Ballerina’s upcoming performance with Ballet Theatre Queensland ran from 8:30am to 9:00pm last night. Now she’s hobbling around like an ancient crone. And spare a thought for the dance mum, up till 2:00am sewing ballet ribbons and elastic to pointe shoes. Hoping the audience appreciates what goes into these shows.

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copywriting me

Angela Bensted is Brisbane-based freelance writer who likes to listen first and struggle with syntax later. She pitches stories to magazines, sometimes successfully, and helps businesses produce compelling copy for print and online.

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