Biography as Lie-ography

The Writer’s Lie-ography: Why Your Autobiographical Bits Should Be Fiction

The Writer’s Lie-ography: Why Your Autobiographical Bits Should Be Fiction

Also included in this post: The Laughing Coyote Cocktail Contest

Historiography of the Lie-ography

The Lie-ography cannot be adequately understood without reference to its origins, so I am going to return us to the recent distant past (March 21, 2014) and my original post “Why Writer’s Should Never Introduce Themselves,” in order to jump back aboard my ridiculous line of thinking and explain how I developed the idea of the Lie-ography as a replacement for the more or less truthful author’s biography that most writers employ, probably because they just don’t know any better.

Writer’s should lie as often as possible, especially about themselves, and I’m here to explain why. To do that, I have to tell you a story, a highly suspicious maneuver, I agree, but then again I’m a writer and can’t help myself on so many levels.

As you may or may not recall, I hate introducing myself, whether it’s online, on a book jacket, on a date, or on The Colbert Report (but since Stephen doesn’t listen to me anyway, it’s not such a problem).

Other than the fact that my introduction is completely epiphenomenal in relation to whatever I’m writing, there’s another reason I hate explaining who I am:  What if I get it wrong?

Yes, you heard me. What if I’m mistaken? Research has shown that eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. How many of us could really pick ourselves out of a line-up?

What if I tell you some things that don’t turn out to be true? Won’t you just hate me then? Or think I’m really stupid when I say, “Honestly, I didn’t realize I was that misinformed! No I wasn’t lying! I was just wildly inaccurate!”

And what if you dislike me based on what I tell you, but what I said was wrong, and you actually like me tremendously because I’m nothing like what I said I was?

Or worse: what if you fall in love with me based on what I told you, but I was incorrect and now you are in love with a False Me? Are you really prepared for that? Am I?

Autobiography is notoriously untrustworthy.

(I think, really, people, if you think you want to know me, or date me, you should spend time spying on me first. That’s what I’d sincerely recommend. For all you know I sent a body-double on that date with you in the first place and I hired someone else to do this blog for me. So, you may have already fallen in love with Psuedo-Me. Yes, I’d recommend spying. Really. Just disguise yourself as a cat and you’ll be fine.)

God gets involved in the Lie-ography

Then there’s the Other Reason I don’t like introducing myself. This requires more story.

One day God pulled up in his vehicle right beside me on Cerrillos Road (which is another reason to hate that thoroughfare) and handed me a note. But this time, I had to concede that he might be right, plus he was driving a black Toyota Tacoma that made me drool, and I thought maybe he’d sell it to me one day if I just believed him once.

I read the note out loud. Actually, I shouted it because Cerrillos is the kind of road everyone feels obligated to drive on all at the same time, so there’s never any room or quiet, so that you can’t concentrate while trying to discern if that’s a left turn lane or the WRONG WAY LANE, nor do you have peace of mind to figure out if that left turn arrow on the horizontal traffic light placed all the way to the right refers to you, or to someone all the way over in the right turn lane, or perhaps someone in the middle of the road who has no desire to turn at all, or to pygmies in Africa who don’t drive.

Ugh, where was I? Oh yes, God giving me notes.

The note went like this: It’s possible I hate telling people who I am because I don’t like myself.

          For a moment I thought: Wow, God doesn’t like himself. Maybe we have more in common than I thought and then I realized that the I in the note was the I in “me” (that isn’t literally there), AND that God was writing about me in the first person: what an imagination he has.

Ding ding ding ding, said God, and then he peeled out, the local country station booming out of his open windows vibrating his gun rack and his fish-shaped government license plate. He ran the red light.

I was instantly peeved so I yelled, “It’s not that I don’t like who I am, but I’m just-this isn’t what-I’m just so disappointed….MY BIOGRAPHY DOESN’T DO ME JUSTICE! It isn’t who I am, isn’t who I want to be! Why do I have to use it? It’s the existential equivalent of me wearing a dress, balancing my checkbook and driving a Prius! If I write this down, everyone will see the cage, not the roaring feline linguist inside it! Raaaraghhhhhh!”

Startled motorists looked at me. The light turned green, the wrong way turn lanes straightened themselves out, and the left hand turn lane arrows on the right side of the traffic apparatus looked up in guilty shame, and slunk over to where they should be: The Left.

Ha! God runs the red light, but it’s the woman screaming her lungs out in the cab of her pick-up that actually makes the lights turn green, and re-engineers the road for safety, not just for herself, but for everyone because I can assure you that every time I get on Cerrillos Road the entire population of Earth does too.

You know I never thought they might be there because I am. Could it be that I never noticed that I’m popular?

Fuck biography!

“This is America, idiot,” I said to myself. “At least for the next five minutes until the rest of the Liturgy-of-the-Tea-Party-as-a-Distraction-from-Wall-Street gets elected. So if you don’t like who you are, Miss Jaguar in the Car, who do you want to be?”

The wild part of me perked up. The vocabulary stood at attention. The left turn arrow vowed to never move to the right again.

“And can I do a biography of her instead?”

The motor roared.

I smiled, “Now we’re talking! But would that be interesting or just pathetic?”  I said to the Jaguar who had just materialized beside me. He put his paw on my leg.

“And would it be a biography or autobiography?”

Enter the Lie-ography.

“And what would it sound like?

In my rear view mirror I could see a Coyote laughing as he danced back and forth in the bed of my pick-up. The Jaguar indicated it was time to turn left. The green arrow waved at me as I rounded the corner.

The Full-On Lie-ography of Laughing Coyote

My name is Deborah Stehr.

I wish my name was Laughing Coyote Goddess. Well I got that kind of right.

My full name, Deborah Ann Stehr, when said full force, sounds a bit like someone who should belong to the local Gestapo. (No offense to any local gestapos.) Neither of my parents had any self-esteem, so they made sure I sounded like I had some.

When they would call me out of the yard—well it was really only my mother. I’m not sure my father ever used my name, although he did give a nickname, The Slobovian, and because I completely failed to be as anal retentive as he was. Anyway, when my mother would call me out of the yard—Deborah Ann Stehr!—it would startle me and I’d look around and think, a little scared, who the hell does she think I am? I would swivel around looking for someone with that name, engendering perhaps an entire lifetime of looking for myself.

( The last name rhymes with “stare.”)

I’m 47 years old.

I wish I was 35. Not the 35 I actually was when I was 35, but the thirty five I would be if I was 35 now with 47 years of experience. (Why it’s good to have experience being me, I’m not sure. It’s not like there’s an employer out there looking for a Deborah with 47 years of being Her. Well we did hire a younger Deborah, but she lacked that essential last ten years and, wow, well, eventually, we just had to let her go. She was young, nubile and orgasmic, but definitely did not have the forty-seven year old skill set we needed.)

So let us review so far:

Hi there, my name is Laughing Coyote, LC to my buds, and I’m 35 on the outside and 47 on the inside…why yes, my soul is  older than my body. Heh heh heh.

Unfortunately right now it’s the reverse: I’m 47 on the outside and around 25 on the inside, and I occasionally take a foray back to high school because I came out late. Not as middle-aged, as gay.

I’m single.

I wish I was a double….yeah, don’t know what that means either, although it does make me sound a bit like I might fit in a shot glass, which I definitely wouldn’t.

“Laughing Coyote?” says the bartender to the young woman at the bar, “You want The Laughing Coyote? You sure?”

The young woman nods, quickly, her fists clenched, perhaps inadvertently asphyxiating her resolve.

“With or without Goddess?” asks the bartender.

Her forehead frowns for her.  She looks nonplussed.

The bartender says, “You didn’t know the full name of The Drink (yeah, I’m the kind of woman people refer to in italicized breathless capitals) you are about to ingest?” The bartender has been to college and enjoys teaching English to the drunk and soon to be inebriated.

The young woman looks uncomfortable and is about to give up her authentic empowered future and just order a wine cooler, but she sucks it up and says, “Give me a shot of that Laughing Coyote Goddess.”

(Ha, there’s more than one way to inhabit younger body!!! I so love the    lie-ography! I slide down into her insides, satisfied. Wow a stomach that works and a liver too!)

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Her life will never be the same. The transformative powers of the Laughing Coyote Goddess are second to none. And as for me. . .

Who knew? See ladies and gentlemen this new kind of autobiographical bit has legs. I am now a thirty-five year old queer woman with a 47 year old soul named Laughing Coyote Goddess, and you can drink me up at a shot glass at a bar! Damn! I am so cool after all!

 The Laughing Coyote Cocktail Contest

For ideas of what ingredients should be in an alcoholic Laughing Coyote Goddess drink please comment below. My editorial team will then engage in experimental research. The winner will get promoted, if he/she wants that, on my blog and get free tickets to an upcoming show and, after signing a waiver and donning appropriate protective gear, can talk to me in person.

Please note that “upcoming” denotes some undetermined time in the future. If I could send you back to the past for a slam bang performance I already did, I would, but my Time Machine was stolen last Thursday, and that last time I tried to transform temporarily in my Transmogrifier (donated from Calvin and Hobbes out of pity), everyone around me spoke backwards for a week.

What You Wouldn’t Know If I’d Stuck to the Simple Truth

Now if I had stuck with the chronological narrative: that I grew up in Oklahoma, went to undergraduate school in Texas (which I liked, the school, not The Texas), and then attended Duquesne University in the 1990’s, and a decade later emerged with a Ph.D. in existential-phenomenological clinical psychology, you wouldn’t know that I have a sense of humor and can be consumed in a shot glass. And spend most of my time next to other forms of alcohol that went to graduate school and can spell inebriated, while never forgetting that the truth can be transformed into something better.

And now for this last bit: I’m an academic psychologist. I wish I was a writer.

Actually I am a writer.

I write, therefore I am.

It’s true and is the one thing I do not quarrel with in myself. It may very well be the one thing I’ve told you that is absolutely true. There’s the sunrise every morning; there’s the certainty of death; there’s the fact that this 113th congress has passed less legislation than any other U.S. Congress in the history of the world, and there’s the Deborah Stehr is a writer thing. Holy Shit. The Lie-ography is just another way to tell the truth!

I write blog posts, stand-up, short stories, rants, essays, poetry, and chapters from books that I haven’t published yet, and I wrote a breathtaking 300 page dissertation entitled The Experience of Premenstrual Syndrome as Paradoxical Feminine Subjectivity, that simulated a car chase, and essentially serves as a warning to other young women who want to write a dissertation about the social construction of hormones. It’s not really very funny, although I do think the comic book version of my dissertation does have possibilities. We have plenty of comics about violence. Why not some about periods and “menstrual preparation time” otherwise known as PMS? And then a movie deal entitled: The Wrath of Pam?

As a result of all this rampant scholarship, I now will no longer write academic papers and this is the main reason I’m not a full professor somewhere. I’m a partial professor in a lot of places instead. Or as I call it: An Itinerant Teacher. Pays just about as well too. And the added bit of no health insurance, so every day in a body is an adventure. (I am approximately one fourth of one professor for those of you who like measuring things.)

How I became a writer is only slightly interesting. How I became a psychologist instead of a writer is marginally tragic, but has its funny bits. It’s amazing how many things one can become while one is trying to be something else. What might be more fascinating is how I became a certified Transmogrifier Operator and how I grew to understand the difference between its magical properties and another tried and true method of transformation used by Coyote called Instant Hole.

But that is a tale for another time. My attention span has dissipated showing that even my own self-absorption has limits. What a relief!

Until next time,

Lie-ographically Yours,

The Laughing Coyote

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Categories: Biography as Lie-ography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Why Writers Should Never Introduce Themselves

Letters from The Laughing Coyote: a humor blog

The ‘About’ Tab delayed the launch of this blog (or should I say ‘bog’) for a good nine months.

People have told me I’m funny and the empirical evidence of laughter in my ears makes me somewhat inclined to believe it. Since I also have a  habit of writing anything and everything while trying to find some kind of sense in the world, or failing that, a punchline, I thought: A comedy blog. Perfect. A venue for the theater of the absurd that is my life. A way to waste time until I’m dead.

At last I had found my purpose and I actually had the skills to make it happen.

Shortly thereafter I discovered THE ABOUT page, which exists, like a bacteriophage, on almost every blog in the universe.

Jesus Christ, you mean I have to be a person to have a blog? Fuck! That was my whole reason for joining cyberspace—it’s a whole arena for people who aren’t people. Isn’t this the place where I don’t have to be who I am?

I can’t possibly be a person. Not at this late date anyway.

I’m not sure writers should have to be people. I mean really. That’s a lot of pressure. It’s bad enough having semantic deadlines without the added pressure of having to meet existential ones too. How is that fair?

I think writers should be exempt from all that claptrap because we’re so special (read: neurotic) that, well, I can either write something and entertain you, or at least distract you from something else, OR I can be useful, compassionate, generous human being with a definitive purpose in the world: no way you are getting both, not in this body, not in this century. Not from me anyway.

Existential deadline my ass! Take that ‘About’ Tab! I am NOT going to introduce myself! So there! I will stop this Biographical Blog Virus in its tracks! I will be the Vaccine of Autobiography!

WHY I HATE INTRODUCING MYSELF

In case I didn’t already make myself completely clear: I hate introducing myself. I hate saying who I am, why I write, what I write, where I’m from, what my work means, and so forth. Being asked to explain myself is the only time I’m not fundamentally narcissistic. I get that deer-in-the-headlights look when people stop me on the street and ask me “So who are you anyway?” (Like that happens frequently!) Panicked I look at them like I used to look at my algebra teacher whenever she asked me anything. My mind would flat-line and you could hear the annoying whiny sound thirty blocks away.

deer in headlights

The same thing happens to me when I’m out on a date and the woman says, “So tell me about yourself.” I always feel like saying, ‘That’s the one thing I can assure you I know absolutely nothing about, so why don’t you get involved with me and we can explore who I am together? You be Lewis. I’ll be Clark.”

I think I find it so irritating because it all feels a bit like the following assignment: Define Everything.

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL BITS

Maybe all this inner drama exists because my autobiographical bits—now doesn’t that sound worrisome?—are not really my true self and I’m sick of talking about the existential furniture of my life, which usually has something to do with being a psychology Ph.D., a college lecturer, and being from a family dysfunctional enough that it required its own zip code and a subscription to a carbohydrate factory to survive it.

Apparently somewhere I also minored in Unhappiness, which is a little like majoring in air and almost as useful. Stated another way, at the existentialist school of psychotherapy where I spent my twenties, I had some kind of accident involving quantum mechanics, post-modernism and nicotine, and ended up becoming proficient at the “Un,” or “Not,” thereby fully participating in the kind of ribald nihilism that is the driver of any seriously ridiculous humor.

What I would really like people to ask me is: Who aren’t you? This I am definitely overqualified to answer.

Well I’m not in a relationship; I’m not published enough; I’m not making money writing YET; the various forms of my career teeter somewhere between nothingness and total inscrutability; I spend the majority of my time doing things I don’t want to do (teaching being the exception) and I suck at housework—it’s my idea of eternity. I don’t have children (other children wrote in and asked that my unborn progeny be spared), and if you ask my about what I write, I won’t be able to tell you, unless I just use three words, or all of them, and that would be really selfish because other writers need some words too.

What I can say pretty easily is that I appear to suffer from chronic anger. THAT I can say with definitive brevity and assurance. However, it is something I wish I wasn’t, although I hear that you can make money off of being continually pissed off. I really should have named this blog Crabby Ass Productions. Dr. Crabby Ass, I presume? From UWTF (The University of What the Fuck.) I’m an angry writer. There. Finally something we can hang our hats on while we go find the startled deer and take it to a support group. The pissed off comedian bit should also single me right out in a crowd of 100,000.

So that’s the kind of introduction I tend to come up with when I’m left unsupervised. I really need an Author Chaperone to handle this area of my life–kind of like a bodyguard, only one who talks.

WHY WRITERS SHOULD NEVER INTRODUCE THEMSELVES

Writers should NEVER have to introduce themselves. They should just write. Writing is just the opposite of that old adage: it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

For writers, it’s what you say and then it’s what you say, again. The most action and incarnation you are going to get from a bit of writing is how something is told.  The writing doesn’t care about what you, the writer, do. Who you are, how you screwed up your life, how you didn’t: THE STORY DOESN’T CARE. And neither should the audience.

After years of psychology where I tried to be real, tried to matter, and attempted to do something useful, I finally realized: I suck at this. I don’t DO anything. I say things. Then I say more things. Then I wish I’d said more or less. Then I laugh. Then I cry. Then I edit. Then I say more so I don’t have to edit. (Called an Anti-Edit). Then I sleep. I finally realized: I don’t need to be real. I don’t need to DO anything. I’m just going to say things now. Let people who are good at action do it. I am just going to do one of two things: be silent, or say something. That’s it. That’s all I can do. It’s all I want to do. Oh and well, some sex would be nice.

Disasters occur when we spend too much time talking about ourselves. This blog is already a case in point. Like most things I do, I serve as a WARNING sign, evolving into possible PREVENTIVE MEASURES that save others, if not myself.

Probably you are on the verge of deciding right now, based on all that blah blah blah engendered by the evilness of the Brief Bio About Tab, that this humor blog is about as funny as a 1000 rem of radiation. You’ll be dead in approximately an hour. That’s just enough time to fill out your will online and post one last thing on Facebook.

INTRODUCTIONS CAN KILL 

I nearly died once during an open-mic. And I was in the audience at the time.

I probably shouldn’t say the rest of this because it will probably alienate the 1.5 people left who are still reading this (and thank you half a person—I sooo know what you feel like. . . )

What is it with comedians that we want to say the most awful things and then have people love us, not only at the same time, but precisely because of the  horrible  thing we just said? How ridiculous is that? Why is it that the rules of social interaction are reversed in a comic’s vicinity? Or at least we hope for that, because seriously, being a comic is a genetic anomaly, along with being gay and opposing firearms. My chromosomes definitely attended some unending party of implausibility before falling in line and creating a person.

Anyway I nearly died during someone else’s introduction. Of suffocation. I had to be carried out on a stretcher. Apparently I was holding my breath during the introduction, waiting to hear what the performer had to say, not a dissertation on who the performer was.

If I wanted to actually meet people, I’d go to a social event or start voting. When I go to a writing event, I want to meet the writing. I do not care that the person began their writing career because they fell into a pool and nearly drowned, thus providing the threshold experience severe enough to kick the writing genes into life. (Actually that’s a pretty good story. So tell the damn story. Put it in writing!) If I meet you at an event (at the wine tasting afterwards for example), you can be sure it’s because of what you said, not because of who you are.

Because I’m a writer—and this is part of the argument about why writer’s shouldn’t ever introduce themselves—I have things reversed; I think books are people, poems are pets, good stories are great parents, and comedy routines are shamans in disguise, and that philosophy is a highway leading to the nearest semantic party. Actual people confuse me.  And then I hope to be loved myself for saying things, for god’s sake, especially the stuff people think but don’t say. My entire life comes down to this: Don’t love me for who I am; love me for what I say.

Reasonable is not a word that comes to mind.

HOW TO LIE WITH IMMUNITY…or is that impunity?

Being is entirely beyond me. I read about Being once in graduate school. I had to put the book down and become a professor instead. I feel like being too much in one direction or the other could possibly be dangerous for my readers. In other words, I think my actual personality might be infectious—I could unwittingly pass the DNA of my Being through sentences in a selfish attempt to reproduce like any virus and so the actual details of my life should be titrated with caution. I don’t want to kill the host.

Thus I see myself as the Jonas Salk of blogs, if he’d been a comedian rather than someone who actually saved the world. Following his example, I created the

 Lie-ography, the revisionist version of The Brief Bio in hopes of saving the reader from myself, long enough to create some entertainment, or failing that, some distraction that compels you, the reader, to go online and warn other people NOT to go to this blog, Laughing Coyote Productions, for fear of being permanently infected by life.

A Lie-ography is essentially an auto-biography based on what a person wants to be, instead of what one is. It is different from the ‘plan old lie,’ because it is done for the sake of the populace, which should never, under any circumstances, be exposed to a writer’s real personage, due to the similarity between a writer’s psyche and plutonium (see above for existential exposure limits).

My Lie-ography will be made available to the public in two weeks, in my next post, entitled: Why Writer’s Should Lie As Often As Possible. This article will also shed light on related topics, such as: what or who is the Laughing Coyote, is this blogger as obnoxiously hopeless as she sounds, and how exactly is this a humor blog.

The Laughing Coyote will post “biweekly”, which apparently can mean several things: One, it will only be available in media read by bi-sexuals; two, it will be published twice a week; or three (my personal favorite) it will post every two weeks. I have chosen the latter, at least until Vladimir Putin decides to annex this blog because I once used the Russian word ‘nyet.’

For a more complete, almost total lack of description of me, click on the About Tab, which, as you can imagine, is still under construction.

Best regards,

The Laughing Coyote                                                                                                 imagesCAQ9YDJW

Categories: Author Introduction, Biography as Lie-ography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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