My Six Words


Smith Magazine is collecting people’s six-word memoirs.

Everyone has a story. That’s the tag on the masthead of SMITH, our online magazine. Yet until we asked the world to send us six-word memoirs, even we had no idea how true it was.

We took a page from Ernest Hemingway. According to legend, he was challenged to write a novel in only six words and came up with “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” We posed the same challenge online, but we asked for true-life stories — in just half a dozen well-chosen words.

To launch the challenge, we posted examples from names we figured most readers would know, such as “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert (“Me see world! Me write stories!”; she naturally e-mailed hers in from an airport runway in Indonesia) and celebrity chef Mario Batali (he sent seven, each enlightening but none as pitch-perfect as “Brought it to a boil, often”).

More than 15,000 (and counting) submissions later, we are continually struck by what proves possible in just six words.

(The rest of the L.A. Times column.)

Here’s my six-word memoir:

I never was very fond of rules.

What’s yours?

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