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Rachel Lehmann-Haupt

Senior Editor, TED Books, TED Books

TEDCRED 20+

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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:
http://tinyurl.com/b5zwymq

You can buy it on:

Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/b35x88g

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/things-dont-have-to-be-complicated/id588129395?ls=1

Nook: http://tinyurl.com/cy8pdae

Author Larry Smith will be joining us for a one hour Q&A January 15th, at Noon Pacific / 3pm Eastern. Mark your calendars!

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  • Jan 13 2013: A life no one cares about.
    • Jan 14 2013: As humans I believe we connect on a spiritual level. I know my spirit refused to just let me read your post and move on without reaching out to you. I pray for you, that you find the caring you seek, but more importantly, that you find someone for whom you can care. Peace.
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      Jan 15 2013: Hi Parth,
      I am also saddened about how you see your life. I have found in times when I feel alone and that no one cares, that if I reach out and show someone care, it comes back to me threefold. I do this by volunteering and giving and through this I have met people who have come to care about me and who I care about. Sometimes we have to put ourselves out there, and if there is no one in our lives, then find ways to add people to your life. By posting to Ted, you have people from all over the world who are reading your posts, and care what you have to say.
    • Jan 15 2013: The question is, do YOU care?

      (yay! 6 words!)

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