More about the 6-word memoir

(I received this as an email and am not quite sure of the origins of the following – apologies for not acknowledging the author)

In November of 2006, as a kind of maverick way to celebrate National Novel Writing Month, SMITH Magazine challenged readers to flip that coin over and, rather than writing some 10,000 word novel, how about writing a six-word memoir. The story of their lives. Six words only. Could it be done? They got submissions by the truckload.

‘Saviour complex makes for many disappointments.’

‘Business school? Bah! Pop music? Hurrah!’

‘Cursed with cancer. Blessed with friends.’

And this one that became the title of the book SMITH Magazine made out of the project: ‘Not Quite What I Was Planning.’

“Not Quite What I Was Planning” (Harper, $12) and it’s off spin, – an on-going website where the writing of these six-word autobiographies is still going on – are both a wonderful mishmash of life stories, whittled down to the bare bone. Some are shocking, some are sad, some are hilarious and offbeat – but each one offers a window into the soul of another person.

Some of the six-liners in the book are by noted writers or big name entertainers:

‘Revenge is living well, without you. ‘ – Joyce Carol Oates

‘Liars, hysterectomy didn’t improve sex life.’ – Joan Rivers

And this perfect one from Deepak Chopra’s son: ‘Soul’d out so I could prophet.’

One of the myths surrounding Ernest Hemingway is that he was once asked to write a story in six words. So he did.

‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’

Some call it his best work.


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