Once asked to write a full story in six words, legend has it that novelist Ernest Hemingway responded: "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."
In this spirit, Smith Magazine invited writers "famous and obscure" to distill their own life stories into exactly six words. It All Changed in an Instant is the fourth collection of very, very brief life stories from Smith. The tiny memoirs are sometimes sad, often funny — and always concise.
It All Changed in an Instant is full of well-known names — from activist Gloria Steinem ("Life is one big editorial meeting"), to author Frank McCourt ("The miserable childhood leads to royalties"), to actress Molly Ringwald ("Acting is not all I am").
Larry Smith, founding editor of Smith, and Rachel Fershleiser, Smith's memoir editor, talk to NPR's Rebecca Roberts about the fun and the challenge of capturing real-life stories in six little words.
Smith's six-word memoir? "Now I obsessively count the words." And Fershleiser's: "Bookstore to book tour in seconds."
Can you write your autobiography in one sentence? Share your six-word memoir.
More six-word memoirs from It All Changed in an Instant:
Found on Craigslist: table, apartment, fiance.
Alzheimer's: meeting new people every day.
Met wife at her bachelorette party.
Family portrait: everyone smiles but me.
Hotel sex still rocks over fifty.
I picked passion. Now I'm poor.
Kathleen E. Whitlock
Normal person becomes psychotic on Twitter.
Yale at 16, downhill from there.
Overworked and underpaid,
Oversexed and underlaid.
After cancer, I became a semicolon.
Anthony R. Cardno
At least I never voted Republican.
Full circle: morgue tech becomes obstetrician.
So would you believe me anyway?
Excerpted from It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure from Smith magazine, edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith. Copyright 2010. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, Harper Perennial.