“If you’re a doe-eyed, raven-haired beauty with ninja skills, who speaks five languages and saves the world in her spare time, you should probably move on, but if you’re an accountant who wouldn’t mind taking care of a couple bookkeeping issues when I fall behind, I’d cherish you like a queen.” So begins the online dating profile–or flash memoir–I ghostwrote for a friend.
It was great fun making this rather dour, conservative stick-in-the-mud into a funny, dour, conservative stick-in-the-mud. The key, as always with writing fun profiles and bio pages, was to make sure he could laugh at himself while not apologizing for being exactly as he is.
It’s Easier if Someone Else Writes Your Dating Profile
Dating profile writing is great practice for flash memoir, but it’s hard to write your own. If you’ve ever tried it, you know It’s difficult for people to write their own online dating profiles. It’s also difficult to write your own memoir. Having a ghostwriter do it can be really useful. In fact, two friends should get together and write each others’ dating profiles. You might learn a lot about yourself while improving your skill at biography.
Flash Memoir is Fun When it Mocks the “Dating Profile” Genre
The profile I wrote goes on to quip:
“Here’s what you won’t get in this profile: any claim to be an exciting guy who spends his time surfing, snowboarding, hiking, paragliding, or sumitting mountains in exotic locations. I’ve never been to an exotic location, and I never hope to see one. “
My friend loved this part because don’t we all know that the forest would be absolutely overflowing if all the people who claim to spend their lives snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking actually did that stuff on the regular?
With the above gag, he mocks the genre even as he participates in it: a key to humorous writing of all kinds. The memoir genre does have a lot to mock, like its obsession with trauma, its psychotherapeutic aspect, its function as a confessional, while God knows the online-dating-profile genre is chock full of ridiculous assertions, too.
After all, why take your flash memoir–or your online dating profile–so seriously? The more serious you are, the less honest you are. Life, indeed, is funny. Point out the irony of the everyday, for a funnier story, and let your flaws become features.
Turn Defects into Features
The profile concludes:
“I’m never going to write an opera. I’m never going to paint a portrait. I’m not in the midst of writing the great American novel. I’m not composing a concierto for woodwinds and clarinet. But wait, before you decide I’m too boring, consider this: there is a zero percent chance I will bring a lot of ‘drama’ into your life.”
With this statement in his dating profile, my friend turns his greatest weakness into his greatest strength … for the right woman. That’s what I think makes for great flash memoir.
The idea is not to shine up the old pot so it gleams, but rather to present the rust as a feature, a uniquely weathered patina, which is perfect in its own way.