Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Your Life in 6 Words

This is another gem I stumbled across while lurking in the stacks at my local library: It All Changed in an Instant: more six word memoirs by writers famous & obscure (2010), the latest in a series published by SMITH Magazine.

In the Introduction, the editors relate the legend of how the short-short story came to be. Apparently, Ernest Hemingway was called out in a bar bet to write a novel in six words. True or not, the story is heart-breaking: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

There are plenty more like this in It All Changed in an Instant. Like the title says, both the famous and the not-so-famous have contributed stories to this project. Some of my favourites include:

Said vagina more than necessary. Vagina. -Sarah Silverman

Mommy, why won't Daddy wake up? -James DiGiovanna

I'm from Flint. You are, too. -Michael Moore

Said I walked into wall. Lied. -Julianne Pepitone

Could be poop, could be chocolate. -Erin Kennedy

As you can tell, in this book you'll find wit, insight, and gut-wrenching sadness. It's a fascinating glimpse into the lives of others that will get you thinking about how your own life might be represented in six words.

The challenge of reducing a life down to just a few words is an interesting one. You really have to think about which experiences impacted you most. It's actually a fun tool for personal reflection. I came up with a couple over breakfast and posted them online to SMITH Magazine's website.The magazine has so far received more than 250, 000 six-word memoirs from the community of storytellers who have signed up at SMITHMag.net and SMITHTeens.com. Many of these stories have ended up in one of their collections.


  1. SMITH Magazine chose one of my memoirs as a featured backstory on their site this week: http://www.smithmag.net/sixwords/story.php?did=249887

  2. Congratulations on the featured backstory! I've read and enjoyed Not Quite What I was Planning and I Can't Keep my Own Secrets : Six-word memoirs by teens famous & obscure. I'll have to check out the two others.

  3. Thanks, Danielle!