Was listening to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning whilst frantically trying to get ready for work, so I didn't quite hear all of it, only snatches in between frenzied showering and hair drying activity. Late, late, late as usual. There was a feature about Ernest Hemingway, how he'd been challenged by some guy in a bar or somewhere to write a short story in six words. He came up with:
"For sale: Baby shoes, never worn."
He won the bet.
Despite the fact that I was hopping round the bedroom trying to get my other boot on whilst simultaneously scrabbling in my bag for my car keys, those six words spoke to me with far more impact than maybe thousands more could have done. The poignancy of them stopped me in my tracks. Who would have thought that so few words could give the lead to however many stories the reader is capable of imagining? By the time I actually got to the office I'd got the bare bones of a story in my mind and was just coming to the reason why those baby shoes had never, in fact, been worn. And believe me, it was sad.
So this story had become the idea behind another challenge (this time from the editor of Smith, the American on-line magazine) when writers were invited to create a memoir in the same way, in just six words. There were a few featured on the programme which I found amusing, depressing, clever or just terribly sad. The best were selected to appear in Smith's book "Not Quite What I Was Planning - Six Word Memoirs From Writers Famous and Obscure."
So, having arrived late at the office because I'd been spellbound by a radio feature, at coffee time I told my colleagues about it and before long, we had:
"Divorced Mum, Only Loved One Man."
"Taught Dancing, Got Married, Grew Up."
"Took Wrong Turn. Can't Go Back"
Now I'm not suggesting we all want to bare our souls here, unless anyone really wants to, but it did occur to me that this was something which might appeal to some of us, to write six words which best describes our lives up until this point. If you fancy giving it a whirl, please feel free to write what best describes you on my comment page. I'll start you off with mine.
"Could not? Did not. Why not?"
Fancy giving it a go? Go on then.