The challenge was posed by SmithMag.net ~ Write your life story in six words or less! The result was more than 15,000 submissions and a book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser. NPR featured the phenomenon in its piece: Six Word Memoirs: Life Stories Distilled. The LA Times published a commentary Short on Words, Deep in Meaning, and Publishers Weekly wrote:
Can you describe your life in six words? That’s what the editors of storytelling magazine SMITH asked readers in 2006; the results, though decidedly uneven, make for compulsive reading and prove arguably as insightful as any 300+ page biography. Taken as a whole, this cascade of quotes from contributors famous and unknown creates a dizzying snowball effect of perspectives and feelings.
The Daily Journal: The Beginnings of my 6-Word Diary
In this blog-happy world of blathering writers ~ of which I am shamelessly one ~ words flow all too freely. As writers, we tend to focus our energies on ways to produce MORE words, not less. The idea of compressing a life into a succinct 6 word message intrigues me. Like the fiercest of editors, this exercise calls you to drill down to WHAT IS truly most relevant, important and real.
With that it mind, I’ve decided to add this daily journal exercise to my writing life. While I’m not prepared to write my LIFE story ~ I’ll call that “the final” ~ I am ready to practice. My so-deemed homework will be a summary of my life (or at least my day) in exactly six words. If you’re interested in following along, I’ve created another page on this blog: My 6-Word Diary (a permanent link in the heading). It will be updated daily with my six word musings, and of course, you are invited to add your own whenever you feel inspired.
Can you summarize your life in 6 words? Now that’s an interesting question.
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SmithMag is now taking submissions for 6 word “Mom-oirs” on being a mother, as well as those on love and heartache. Here are some recent contributions:
- Should have listened to my mother. ~ Shelby Mulhare
- He didn’t even fight for me ~ Sissy Jones
- Connoisseur of coffee, wine, experience, mistakes. ~ Annie Heintz
- Crash and burn, rose from ashes ~ Heather McGill
- She kissed me and said ‘yes’
- They didn’t tell me about teens.
- Puppies would have been much easier. ~ Herminia B
SmithMag.net is a storytelling community: a place to read, write, and share stories. Their tagline: Everyone has a story. Cool website, check it out.
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Watch a short photo slideshow featured on NPR of selected illustrated memoirs from the book.