- Rachel Lehmann-Haupt
- Sausalito, CA
- United States
Senior Editor, TED Books, TED Books
This conversation is closed.
Can you define your life in just six words?
This is the challenge Larry Smith presented to his online community, SMITH MAGAZINE, in 2006. His quest was inspired by the legend that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a novel in just six words. His heart-breaking result: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Giving the form a personal twist, Smith reimagined the six-word novel idea as the Six-Word Memoir, challenging contributors to create a half-dozen words of self-reflection. The constraint, it turned out, fueled rather than inhibited creativity: "Sometimes lonely in a crowded bed." Inspired by the form's popularity in schools, Smith recently called for submissions for illustrated Six-Word Memoirs, in which he asked students, whether in grade school or grad school, to create a piece of artwork that enhanced their memoirs. The voices in Things Don't Have to Be Complicated are younger than typical, but no less profound:
"Big Dream, Big Heart, Big Mouth"
"I'm a Muslim. not a terrorist."
"Life is better with headphones on."
At its core, the Six-Word Memoir offers a simple way for anyone of any age to try to answer the question that defines us all: Who am I?
Here's an excerpt of the book in the Washington Post:
You can buy it on:
Author Larry Smith will be joining us for a one hour Q&A January 15th, at Noon Pacific / 3pm Eastern. Mark your calendars!