"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

And hence the legend of very short stories begins with six words from Hemingway. SMITH, an online magazine, had a reader contest that turned out to be so popular that the system almost crashed under the weight of 500+ submissions a day. Now the best ones have been compiled into a book titled Not Quite What I Was Planning.

The contest? Your life story in six words.

A few good ones culled from the brief article in the Feb 25 New Yorker:

“Yes, you can edit this biography.” (Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia)

“Eat mutate aura amateur auteur true.” (Jonathan Lethem)

“Former child star seeks love, employment.” (Justin Taylor)

“Well, I thought it was funny.” (Stephen Colbert)

“Brought it to a boil, often.” (Mario Batali)

“Not quite what I was planning…” (Summer Grimes, a 25-year old hairdresser in St Paul, whose submission was chosen for the book’s title.)

Although the ones riffed by the article’s author were pretty funny too. I think the entire article was written in six-word sentences!

“Born in California. Then nothing happened.”

“Birth, childhood, adolescence, adolescence, adolescence, adolescence…”

“Canoe guide, only got lost once.”

Trying to write your own? Advice from the editor:

“Try not to think too hard.”

My own?

“Never made it to med school.”

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