Six-word Memoirs

Legend has it that someone challenged Ernest Hemingway to write a story using only six words. His response was: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Little did he know that his story would lead to a global phenomenon known as “six-word memoirs.” In 2006, Larry Smith from Smith Magazine invited readers to describe their lives in six words; the overwhelming response he received became a best-selling book series and popular website. Last week, Smith wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times called “The Pandemic in Six-Word Memoirs.” Here are some favorites from his article:

Avoiding death, but certainly not living.
— Sydney R.

Social distancing myself from the fridge.
— Maria L.

I regret saying, “I hate school.”
— Riana H.

Hallway hike, bathtub swim, Pandora concert.
— Susan E.

Required school supplies: screens, screens, screens.
— Darshana C.

The world has never felt smaller.
— Maggie S.

Six-word memoirs are an effective form for getting to the essence of overwhelming topics like a global pandemic, systemic racism, or a heated presidential election. There’s something about only having six words that helps you get to the heart of the matter.

You can use six-word memoirs as an icebreaker to spark conversation, a public art project to build community, or as a way to crystalize goals in a board meeting. They’re popular because they’re fun, creative, and accessible — even the most poetry-phobic among us can manage six words on a topic.

Give it a try: Using just six words, share your experience of the current times. Here’s mine: Bags are packed. Ready to go!

Sources:
“The Pandemic in Six-Word Memoirs” by Larry Smith. The New York Times, September 11, 2020.

Photo: First Day of School: Six Word Stories with a Twist. Moving Writers.

11 thoughts on “Six-word Memoirs

  1. Home here, home there, home where?

    Bulgarian plates, Greek dakos, Cambridge garden.

    Got my mask, got my sanitizer.

    Like

  2. Waiting to see what happens next!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. So on a more serious note: “Remembering incredible joy soothes indescribable loss.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love that Gary!

      Like

  4. Inside, my mask facilitates my diet.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Just kidding. Of course I can!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 3 people

    1. 😂

      Like

  6. Six words? I couldn’t. No way.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Why are so many so stupid!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So true.

        Like

    2. Lol

      Like

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