Writing Your Life: Six-Word Stories

If you are not a word-lover, the fact that April is National Poetry Month probably doesn’t even register on your ‘I find that mildly interesting’ scale.  But for those of us who are, it’s right up there alongside British Period Dramas and French Cinema…..and of course…..Girls.

I think what I love most about poetry can be distilled down to one word: economy.  I have always marveled at the way great poets and lyricists manage to do so much with so little.  How they can tell a story of staggering heartbreak in just a few lines.  Tom Waits (who I think is one of the great poets of all time) does this consistently.  Sometimes humorously, and at others, with such powerful dramatic punch, it brings me to my knees.  DylanLeonard Cohen.  The poet-songwriter list goes on and on.

The notion of ‘economy’ brings me to another poetic marvel––Six-Word Stories, which even if you’re not a lover of words, you might actually love these.

Six-Word Stories as an art form, was allegedly started (allegedly, because it has never been verified) by Ernest Hemingway, who was challenged by a literary agent to tell a story powerfully and completely, in just six words.  Here’s his story:

For Sale:
Baby shoes. Never worn.

-E. Hemingway

Here’s my one word response:  Wow.

Smith Magazine spring-boarded the Hemingway Six Word into a group of successful books.  One of which, was given to me by a very lovely man (you know who you are) who I stepped out with a few years back.  It is titled “Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak By Writers Famous and Obscure.” There are ‘wows’ aplenty within those covers, let me tell you.  (And some good laughs too.)  Here’s a sampling of some of my favorites:

Not interested.

-Stephanie Gerst

Now I hate hearing that song.

-T’Anna Holst

I trusted her forever.
Good choice.

-Nate Koechley

You holding my hair,
me puking.

-Diana Greiner

Romantic comedies screwed me for life.

-Daniela Medina

Which brings me to my Six-Word thinking challenge for you:

If you were going to write your life story in six words, what would it be?  Would you be happy with your Six-Word Story?  If not, what needs to change in order to create a re-telling of your story?

My Six-Word Challenge has got me thinking; that’s for sure.  And while I’ve yet to write mine (and I will) what I know, is that making the courageous decision to follow my passion to write, has meant even if I’m not quite there yet, (with the happy ending) I sure am getting close.

I’ll end with an excerpt of a Raymond Carver poem I’ve posted before.  I’m sharing this with you because when I read it for the first time several years ago, I realized I was not happy with the trajectory of my life story.  And while I had absolutely no idea how to change that, I committed to embarking on a truth-seeking quest to figure it out.  After a journey than has been in equal measure painful and wonderful, I can happily say, I’ve narrowed the chasm–––I’m getting closer to feeling myself “beloved on this earth.”

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

2 Responses to Writing Your Life: Six-Word Stories
  1. Barbara Ann Yoder

    Great post, Diana! Fun prompt. I just posted a link to this post on my Facebook page and am scribbling away.

    A life in six words: tough assignment, but fun. Saying anything in six words is a challenge for the verbose among us. “Verbose” was my word-of-the-day from Merriam-Webster late last night after I completed five weeks’ worth of posts on my blog during a five-day blitz of research and writing. Verbose, indeed.

    Here’s one of my six-word life stories: A writer: someone who writes. Me.

    Will keep writing! Thanks again for the prompt.

    • diana

      B-Thanks so much for reading and posting AND for playing the “Six-word Challenge!” D