They only need six words

Published 6:30 am Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Six-Word Memoir’s time has come.

Anyone can write one. All it takes is six words to define a person’s life. An epitaph in the extreme.

Imagine the possibilities: Go from a six-word eulogy at a funeral or graveside service straight to dinner in the fellowship hall at church in record time.

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The Six-Word Memoir is a project founded by the online storytelling magazine SMITH Magazine. Six-Word Memoirs seek to provide a platform for storytelling in all its forms.

Taking a cue from Ernest Hemingway, who, according to literary legend, was once challenged to write a short story in only six words, SMITH Magazine set out to do the same. The six-word story that started it all: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

In November 2006, Smith’s editors gave the six-word story a personal twist, asking SMITH readers to tell their life story in just six-words. What surfaced was a collective autobiography from SMITH readers and in early 2007; the Six-Word Memoir book series was born.

Go to work now and write your own. Here are a few ideas to stir the creative juices on a winter’s day:

Mower County coordinator and consigliere to the county commissioners:

Gave advice, pushed buttons, took heat.

Retired Mower County commissioner Dick Cummings:

Served people, stayed long, laughed last.

Former Austin police detective who was elected mayor Tom Stiehm:

Fought city hall, won top seat.

Dan Wilson, retired fire chief:

Where there’s smoke, Willie was fuming.

Curt Rude, former police captain convicted of felony drug charge and target of effort to be removed from Austin School Board:

Got caught, fought, lost, lost again.

Jim Hurm, Austin city administrator, who has regularly looked for other work elsewhere:

Greener pastures beckoned, stayed Austin put.

Mike Ankeny, Austin businessman who won election to fill 5th District Mower County Commissioner Dave Tollefeson’s (deceased) term for rest of 2010:

Won squeaker, must run again soon.

Ron Felton and Paul Behn, retired firemen and all-around good guys:

My vote, county commissioner, fire chief.

Dr. Candace Raskin, former Austin Public Schools superintendent:

Rocked boat, played games, Candy Land.

Austin Police Chief Paul M. Philipp, who retired suddenly after complaint filed ending 31-year law enforcement career:

Protected, served, surrendered to complaint, retired.

President George W. Bush:

Two terms, two wars, too much.

GOP Vice-Presidential candidate (and forever Alaska governor) Sarah Palin:

Saw Russia from porch, went rogue.

President Obama:

Offered hope, made change, not enough.


Earth quakes, 230,000 died, misery lingers.

Mark McGwire, former baseball slugger who admitted taking performance enhancing drugs:

Took steroids, hit homers, struck out.

John Edwards, former Senator and Presidential candidate, who carried on an extra-marital affair with a campaign aide, while wife Elizabeth fought cancer:

Made love, child born, no escape.


Created, destroyed, sent savior, know him?

And this last one will inspire comment…

Lee Bonorden, quiet and shy newspaper reporter, who chased truth and justice, while rescuing homeless hamsters, until retiring last year:

Never let facts obscure good story.