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Blog

Your Life Story in Six Words

Stephanie Smith

A tenative tweeter takes a new look at condensed modes of communication after discovering SMITH Magazine's Six-Word Memoir Project.

As a freelance book publicist, I spend a lot of time using social media to get the word out about new titles, but I have to say: I am not a fan of Twitter.  I'm the kind of person who loves thick novels like Jane Eyre, excuses run-on sentences, and had to be taught the meaning of "succinct" by my 9th grade English teacher. So 140 character "tweets" are just not my thing.

Twitter offers a wealth of information for those who wish to seek it out, but to me it feels like an overwhelming sea of data, a roar of white noise. I also can't help but feel like it's a "short-cut", a way to cut creative corners and at the same time cater to our distracted attention spans.  140 characters is just long enough to snag our interest and just short enough to amuse us but not commit us.

But this past week I discovered a project in succinctness that impressed me.  Instead of 140 characters, try six words! The Six-Word Memoir, an initiative of SMITH Magazine, challenges writers to publish their abbreviated life story on their website.  Inspired by the belief that everyone has a story and deserves a forum in which to tell it, SMITH editors created the Six-Word Memoir Project to give people that opportunity.  With a click, anyone can publish their memoir on the website.  I found myself fascinated with some of their entries...

"Never really finished anything, expect cake." -Carletta Perkins

"I still make coffee for two." -Zak Nelson

"Asked to quiet down, spoke louder." -Wendy Lee

In just six words, people all over the world are telling stories with their own unique voice.  I spent half an hour reading through these memoirs and was amazed that such creativity could be condensed into so small a space.  Some are profound, some humorous, some confessional or bittersweet, but all of them possess a genre and a plot of their own as intricate as any novel.

It takes enough skill to be able to articulate your life story, drawing out significant themes and symbols, but to boil it down to six words and still give the reader a lasting impression? It seems to me that is a craft in its own right.  Perhaps Twitter, a cousin endeavor in brevity, is a higher art than I imagined.

Stephanie S. Smith graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Communications and Women’s Ministry, which she now puts to work freelancing as a book publicist and writer through her business, (In)dialogue Communications, at www.stephaniessmith.com.  After living in Chicago for four years, traveling to Amsterdam for a spell, and then moving back home to Baltimore to plan a wedding, she now lives with her husband in Upstate New York where they make novice attempts at home renovation in their 1930s bungalow.  She is a member of the Young Professionals of the Southern Tier and blogs for Moody Publishers at www.moodyfiction.com.