Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Yesterday, DJ Cayenne of Baby Got Books noted that SMITH Magazine is hosting a contest which involves writing a six-word memoir — “the short, short true story of your life.”

If you submit yours for consideration, you just might end up in SMITH's book of six-word memoirs to be published in 2008, alongside such talents as Dave Eggers, Moby, Mario Batali, Jonathan Lethem, Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen J. Dubner.

I’m not sure why, but the whole concept of summarizing my life into six words struck my fancy. What a challenge. Kind of fun.

I actually did it. Here’s the entry I submitted:

Filling time,
Thrilling time,
Killing time.

(The last line is a bit of a downer but I just couldn’t think of another expression using the word “time.”)

You can also think in terms of your epitaph — again, a bit of a downer but fun to contemplate. Use humour.

Here’s my epitaph (although I didn’t submit it and it’s longer than six words.)

“I told you I wasn’t feeling very well.”

Give it a try. You don’t have to be a literary genius to come up with six words and it’s interesting to reflect on your life (so far).

And, hey, if you let me know what you come up with, I’ll post it — with your permission, of course.


oreneta said...

Six words, this is like a haiku exercise. Hmm.

Beth said...

oreneta: Come on, give it a shot! You're a great writer - you can do it. We could be published!

Rebecca H. said...

Here's mine (in true memoir fashion):

"It did not happen that way."

Beth said...

rebecca: Damn, wish I'd thought of that. I love it!
Hope you submitted it to SMITH...

rebecca said...

I did actually!

Beth said...

Good for you and good luck!
(2008 is a long time to wait...)

msp said...

How about "Men dogs houses love my kids"

Beth said...

msp: Fabulous summary of your life!
So true and you've managed to retain a sense of humour about it all...

Trish said...

Am I too late to play?

flirt, blush
glee, push
swaddle, dash

Beth said...

Never too late to play with the rest of "the girls!"
(No guys have joined - yet.)

Your six words are wonderful - they manage to evoke actual images of those stages of your life.

Submit to SMITH!

DJ Cayenne said...

I'd argue that you do need to be a genius to summarize your life in six words. To do it well I mean.

Here are a few stabs:

riffing on Rebecca h...

For the real story - see wife.

These sound depressing:

Never chose to learn from mistakes.
Left home for proverbial greener pastures.

I have a friend who said years ago that the title of his memoir would be: "I'll Take the C"

Dorky Dad said...

Six words? Don't know six words.

Princess Pointful said...

Loved, lost, and everything in between.

I don't actually know if that does really summarize my life, but it came to mind, and it was 6 words, so I'm gonna' roll with it :)

Beth said...

dj: But you don't have to be a genius to have fun with words - thank goodness.
I love the "wife" one.
And speaking of not being a genius, I don't get your friend's, "I'll Take the C."

dorky dad: Oh, tricky - the man uses six words to say he doesn't know six words. (Or am I out to lunch?)

princess pointful: It's great. Whether it really summarizes your life or not, it's certainly an excellent summary of many lives...

DJ Cayenne said...

Beth: On, "I'll Take the C." My friend was an unrepentant underachiever. He figured out the amount of effort that would go into being excellent versus being average, and chose to be average - a letter grade of C in American class rooms. So he declared up front, whatever the question is, he'll take the C.

I thought of another depressing one last night while trying to sleep:

Watched my city drown on television.

Beth said...

dj: Okay, I get it now. Makes sense and is rather funny.
My eldest had a teacher in high school who always referred to him as, "My underachiever." I heard this every time I went to one of those parent/teacher things. The kid finally got his act together when he felt like it.
What does it say about you that your six word memoirs tend to be depressing?

DJ Cayenne said...

I don't know what it means that most of my attempts have been depressing. In real life I am usually upbeat and fairly comical. Perhaps a little fatalistic when considering the long view?

Here's another one - do I get a bonus for five words?:

Eschewed work places requiring ties.

Beth said...

dj: You know why this one's so good? Because in five words you summed up an attitude about life - where you want to be and how you want to be.

And, no, you don't get bonus points for only five words. The use of the word "eschewed" puts it in the realm of six words.

DJ Cayenne said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to go enter that one. I was trying to capture my "I'll take the C" creed...

Beth said...

Way to go and best of luck.
As your "editor" do I get a cut if you win?