Shyla Ann Shehan is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction that haven’t been written yet. Her most noteworthy accomplishment to date is divorcing her (now former) career as a Healthcare IT Integration Specialist. Since then, she has pledged her undying love and fealty to Poetry but has so far refused to get matching tattoos. In truth, Poetry is a serious deadbeat who has never made any money; a terrible influence, actually, and yet super dreamy and enticing like a one-way ticket away from the doldrums of a financially secure and stable existence.
Despite all the warning signs, she gambled what was left of her divorce settlement on an MFA where she became absolutely convinced that the answer to the question she’d never asked was “publishing.” Since rearranging life to pursue her passion, Shyla spends most days tending to a healthy household of cats and houseplants and accidentally breeds snails in her spare time (that’s a joke; everyone knows America successfully eradicated spare time in 1982). She’s currently suffering a midlife identity crisis over writing this bio but is nonetheless grateful to you for reading and hopes you will visit shylashehan.com for more.
Attempt #1 (47 words) – The “I haven’t accomplished anything yet but still have to form three complete sentences” geography-centric, emerging writer bio:
Shyla Shehan was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and has spent most of her life in the Omaha metro area. She’s an engineer for a software company and studies poetry at the University of Nebraska. She currently lives in Papillion with her two children and her cat.
Attempt #19 (131 words) – The “what’s the point” existential crisis bio:
Shyla Shehan is an IT analyst from the Midwest who wonders daily why she hasn’t left. She has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a good job that she mostly enjoys but that also causes people’s eyes to gloss over when she talks about it at parties. She’s enthusiastic about writing and writes a fuckton, but is unsure what to do about it. She’s not sure what using the word “fuckton” in her bio will do to her credibility but she’s sticking with it. Shyla often wonders what the purpose of life is—why she is here, what she should be doing with her one precious life, and if there is a God. She frequently daydreams about uprooting her two children and her cat to move to the Oregon coast.
Attempt #64 (113 words) – The “add some relatable stuff” TMI bio:
Shyla Shehan lives in Omaha with her two children. She originally married at 19 and then divorced some odd years later. She’s dated a few guys, swiped right on dozens more, and met a guy she was certain was her forever love. He was kind, intelligent, and had a fabulous head of hair. She loved him, but he had commitment issues and it took five years to realize there was no future in it. Now she’s single again and writing all about her personal damage while being overworked at a corporate gig. She’s also courting Poetry at a local university and has had one poem published in an anthology you’ve never heard of.
Attempt #117 (103 words) – The “hobbies as a substitute for actual credentials” bio (which easily doubles as a dating profile bio because let’s face it, there’s a greater chance of swiping right and meeting another “forever love” than there is matching with Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, or The Paris Review):
Shyla Shehan is an INTJ who enjoys dystopian fiction and builds her own bookshelves. She lives in a lovely neighborhood within walking distance of her children’s school. When not working to pay her bills, she writes about her personal experiences and the state of the world. In the spring and summer, you can find her tending her garden and biking the trails around town. Every time she has an idea, it leads to buying a URL, developing a website or blog, along with an alternate identity so she can easily hide from it if it fails—all of this and more at theorganicsugarcookie.com.
Attempt #434 (245 words) – The “oh my god, what have I done, shamelessly verbose, just-keep-swimming” bio:
Shyla Shehan is an analytical Virgo born and blossomed in the Midwest. She’s an aspiring (AKA unemployed) writer with an MFA from the University of Nebraska. Upon graduating she co-founded an online literary publication, The Good Life Review, to help others in their journey and also so she would have something more writerly to include in this bio.
She spends her days on Submittable, Chillsubs, and Duotrope, and reads countless journals and newsletters she has subscribed to while researching the publishing machine. With each passing day and form letter rejection, she feels more and more like she’s been duped into trading one corporate meat grinder for another, yet somehow remains hopeful that the writing that has been “in process” with The New Yorker since December 12, 2020, will someday be read and appreciated by another human being.
Over time, Shyla has curated an impressive spreadsheet to keep track of her writing and submissions and enjoys number-crunching the data. She sometimes gets nostalgic thinking about meetings with people who value her contribution and also misses writing just for the hell of it.
Shyla is currently working on a satirical piece for a really cool publisher her friend Mimi turned her on to. It’s about her journey as a writer which is revealed through a series of 3rd-person bios. She is and will remain grateful to anyone who spends their precious time reading what she has written and hopes you will consider buying her debut book. Please.