They say that writing your own biography is every author’s worst nightmare. They are right.
I spent an entire day trying to decide what to write and how to write it so that I wouldn’t sound too boring, too enthusiastic, too modest, too arrogant, too concise, too verbose… According to leading experts on the subject of writing your own biography without bringing about disaster, there’s a long list of ‘too’s’ to avoid, lest you cause catastrophe to strike your nascent literary career. Hoodoos.
Anyway, as I was saying, after a day spent trying to follow the advice of professional biographers, all I got was an award-winning headache. At this point, I might as well write my own biography in my own way.
The toughest part of this task is writing the first line. “I am…” what? Most biographies I have read make the author’s titles and qualifications very clear. They leave no doubt about the categories the author fits into. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it makes me feel a little claustrophobic and gives me performance anxiety. I used to think that to say “I am this”—a mathematician, programmer, writer, whatever—you need to know every tiny detail about the specific discipline, enjoy every last bit of all aspects of it, and do it all the time. Needless to say, that’s the wrong approach. It took me a while to realise that “I do this” is a much better philosophy than “I am this”. It allows you to do multiple things without ending up trapped in any of them. Whether or not you excel at them, or are a ‘real’ mathematician/writer/coder/etc, whatever that means, doesn’t really matter so long as you enjoy what you do.
As you probably guessed, I’m a bit of science-y guy. I have a master’s degree in mathematics. I also studied physics and computer science. Since I was a little boy, I’ve always had a passion for tearing things apart in an attempt to understand their inner workings. (I’m so sorry, Nintendo! I didn’t understand much of your inner workings, either.) This also fed my obsession with becoming a super-scientist. Initially, I thought I’d be a cybernetic engineer (damn you, Mega Man!), then an astronomer, an astrophysicist (this one’s Star Trek’s fault), a mathematician, a programmer, and these days I’m growing more and more interested in biology. In line with the philosophy I was talking about before, I decided I can be a little bit of all those things—though I don’t do much astrophysics beyond discussing blackholes, time travel, and faster-than-light propulsion with my girlfriend. Does that count?
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of interesting things, met special people, and picked up fun hobbies, like drawing portraits. Writing is another one, even though I’ve actually done it for a longer time. (I don’t think it’s necessary to go into my laughable elementary school attempts at writing a novel… Hopefully I’ve improved since then.) I discovered other interests—acting, for example—only later on, after moving from Milan, Italy, to Helsinki, Finland, the charming land of a thousand lakes, of a thousand different names for a thousand types of snow, and of a graceful, fifteen-case declension language.
My want-to-do list is far too full already, but I have never let that deter me. In my spare time, I figure, I can sit in front of my computer with a cup of Earl Grey tea and dust off The Elynx Saga. It has been patiently waiting for me to complete and publish it for more than ten years. After all, being loved, being hated, or being some combination of the two are all acceptable destinies for a book series. Being kept in a drawer (or on a computer, these days), forgotten even by its author, would just be a shame.