I was listening to NPR today and they promoted an upcoming segment on writing your own memoir — in six words. The minute I heard it I was hooked. Six words to tell the world who you were, what your life meant. Fascinating. Tricky. Impossible. I became obsessed. It’s like that game we used to play as kids; “If your house was burning down, what three things would you save?”
If you only had six words, who would you be? Can you hone a description of yourself to that fine a point? Without cliche? Without limiting all that you are?
I began to work:
So much laundry, need to write.
Write to live. Mother to love.
More than mom. Creator, artist, dreamer.
Watch stars. Play Clue. Want more.
Seeking balance — motherhood and self expression.
I asked a friend what his would be. He said, “I would have done it different.” That made me sad.
I kept working. Then I checked out the NPR transcript since I hadn’t even heard the show. Apparently the idea came from “Smith,” the online magazine. Based on the legend that Hemingway once responded to a challenge to write a complete story in six words with, “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn,” They asked readers to tell their life stories in a single sentence. What resulted was a book,“Not Quite What I Was Planning,” by Smith founding editor, Larry Smith and his memoir editor, Rachel Fershleiser.
Here are a few excerpts from the book:
After Harvard, had baby with crackhead. - Robin Templeton
Watching quietly from every door frame. - Nicole Resseguie
Savior complex makes for many disappointments. - Alanna Schubach
Born in the desert, still thirsty. - Georgene Nunn
Almost a victim of my family - Chuck Sangster
Painful nerd kid, happy nerd adult. - Linda Williamson
Then I went back to work on my own. Clearly being a mother was key to my self description. But so was being an artist, an independent creative being. I netted out with this:
“Deep loving mom, creating art to live.”
What would your six word memoir say?