Last summer, I wrote a blog post about the benefits of eavesdropping. I know. It sounds disgusting. But some of the best stories emerge when a slice of real life meets the imagination. A simple sentence overheard can tell a life story; the writer needs only to fill in the blanks.
There is a legend that Ernest Hemingway was having lunch with several writers in the Algonquin Hotel and boasting that he could write a compete story in six words. His companions dared him to do it. Hemingway quickly pulled out his pen and scribbled some words on a paper napkin. Then he passed it around for his friends to see. “For sale. Baby shoes. Never Worn.”
In 2006, Smith Magazine Online created a contest based on the Hemingway legend and asked its readers to submit their life story in six words. The magazine was flooded with entries, 500-plus submissions a day. From that contest came a book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, and also Smith’s ongoing weekly blog featuring the best six-word submissions. Here are this week’s winners:
Biggest Adjustment: “New mom: living in three-hour increments.”
Toughest Narrative Arc: “Scars are scripts of the past.”
Most Self-Defined: “I’m the mainstream kind of hipster.”
Timeliest: “Encyclopeadia’s Brittanica, you were my Legos.”
Best Celebrity Advice: “Adore everything. Because this is it.” (Jeffrey Tambor from his acting workshop at the South by Southwest Festival.)
Six-word memoirs help writers to write succinctly and make the most of their words. They aren’t easy to write. They require writers to think about life and its hidden stories.
So, friends, I dare you. Post a six-word memoir in the Comments section about something that happened to you this week.
Here’s mine. Words escaped. Apprehended. Booked. In custody.
Have you visited and liked my Facebook page for writers? It’s filled with links and tips for writers, and I try to add to them daily.