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.

3 comments:

  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

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  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.

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