“Can you tell your life story in six words?”
Well, many often sum up the year 2020 in two words: dumpster fire. So, why wouldn’t we be able to?
I watched the video above during my Yearbook/Independent Study class where we learned about an organization that created a project called “Six-Word Memoirs.”
The video began with an anecdote about Ernest Hemingway and his encounter to a challenge in which he could only write a story in six words. He replied, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Well, gosh, I honestly couldn’t think of a more interesting story within an entire book. Just by reading those six words, there are obvious hints of layers to them. Why are the shoes for sale? What baby did wore them? Does selling the shoes symbolize a loss, a gain? “Never worn” opens my mind to the possibility of a tragedy in the story. Moreover, the fact that they are now selling these shoes could mean a potential overcoming of grief.
Larry Smith, the founder of SMITH magazine asked his community to sum up their lives in six words. Basically, to tell their story in a six-word memoir. Eventually, the project grew increasingly popular on a global scale, publishing a best-selling book series and featuring memoirs and projects in NPR and The New Yorker.
Six words that can sum up your identity, humor, purpose, or annoyances in life – I thought it was brilliant. Short, to the point, but so cuttingly clear and full of interesting hypotheticals. As my class browsed through memoirs from students, teachers, authors, comedians, actors, even tweets, we all witnessed a plethora of stories with so much personal traction and meaning, where no two grew on the same vine. As we dove deeper toward more meaningful and genuine memoirs, my admiration for this project grew; no two memoirs were the same and each sentence procured unalike backgrounds of a variety of circumstance; in other words, behind each word was a realm of a vividly distinct imaginations and variety of defining stories… and in only six words!
Unsurprisingly, my teacher had us all write one six-word memoirs with a list of themes to choose from:
- The year 2020
- Your life at this moment
- The pandemic
- Something meaningful that happened to you
- A telling anecdote
I’d like to share my personal six-word memoirs to help my audience understand the power that such a minuscule element of literature can have on one’s own imagination and inspiration. As always, I encourage you to get creative and embark on your own projects such as this one, but I strongly recommend writing, thinking, or simply telling your story with six words. I can’t tell you invigorating it feels to have put so much power into so little a medium.
I will disclose that in light of recent events that occurred in D.C today, I included more comic relief than a poetic and complicated strain to look toward a brighter side of life, rather than the political upheaval that has imbued so much personal anxiety and hate.
The Year 2020
Expected less from a barnyard explosion.
Your Life at this Moment
Watching “The Crown” involves less anxiety.
Yeah, I forgot how to drive.
Something Meaningful that happened to You
Thank the gods for Jane Austen.
A Telling Anecdote
I carry spider- repellent in my purse.
Smith, L. (2005). Six Word Memoirs Home. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from https://www.sixwordmemoirs.com/