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I love the headline for this column and I wish I could say I’d written it, but that particular six-word memoir ó a beautiful summation of the writer’s life ó was penned by my daughter’s roommate, Laney Schenk.
Can you write your life story in six words?
The editors of online storytelling magazine Smith asked its readers that in 2006, and the resulting responses ó both celebrity and non-celebrity ó have been made into a book called “Not Quite What I Was Planning.” Smith is still collecting responses for another volume.
You don’t have to have the attention span of a gnat to enjoy these distilled histories. The best of them (like Robin Templeton’s “After Harvard, had baby with crackhead”) manage to have a narrative arc and go beyond being bumpersticker sentiments or lists of descriptive words. Go to smithmag.net/sixwords/ and check out some of the postings.
Nothing but curveballs. Hit some too.
Cheated and still did not win.
Trapped in suburbia; shackled to safety.
I was most me not married.
Met man. Married. He came out.
Daughter died, took me with her.
My husband used the exercise as part of a weekly program at Salisbury High called “Hornet Time.” It’s hard to write a memoir when you’re a teenager, with so much of life still unwritten, but here are some of the thought-provoking responses
Paint each day a different color. (Rachel Kirby)
With a very big heart, regardless. (Donesha Crowder)
Shoot and hope it goes in. (Alex Weant)
Unexpected rollercoasters of laughs and surprises (Alyssa DeLoache)
Black and white in my thinking. (Carley Drye)
Dark skin boys are taking over. (Tre Jackson)
She tries hard and receives nothing. (Katelyn Horning)
Me, me, it’s all about me! (Isis Miller)
Saw darkness in people, found light. (Andy Kwok)
Nice, mean, a little in between. (Kendrick Brown)
Do my daddy love me? Ha. (William Rankin)
Upset because I didn’t say goodbye. (Shirley Crawford)
The last two make me sad.
I didn’t relate as much to my husband’s “Hot sun. Cold beer. Fish on” as to my daughter Spencer’s “Born to eat. Exercise a must.”
Her favorite of her friends’ submissions was “Little Indian boy changes into greatness.” I liked “Put on robe and wizard hat,” which might sum up more than one geeky guy I have known.
I had a hard time with the challenge, and I think most of my colleagues did as well.
Elizabeth Cook said that her husband’s memoir for her would probably be, “She tried to do too much.” Sharon Jackson wrote, “Must be creative, or die trying.” Joanie Morris Reeder, who comes from a huge tribe, wrote: “Big family. Lots of fun. Amen.”
Most of us probably feel like the person who posted on the Smith site: “I am more than six words.”
But it’s still fun to condense your life into a quick sound bite. Send us your efforts, and if we get enough, we’ll print some of them.
Contact Katie Scarvey at 704-797-4270 or kscarvey@salisburypost.com.

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