Friday, April 27, 2012

Six Word Memoirs: Romance Fact or Fiction

According to literary legend, American novelist Ernest Hemingway, famous for his succinct prose, once accepted a challenge to write a story in six words. He won the bet with these six: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” In 2006, Smith, an online magazine that defines itself as “a place for storytelling, with a focus on personal narrative” invited its readers to accept a version of the Hemingway challenge and write their memoirs in six words. The response was so successful that in 2008 Smith editors Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith published a collection, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. That book became a NYT bestseller, so Fershleiser and Smith followed up in 2009 with Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak by Writers Famous and Obscure. Some of the memoirs are nearly as poignant as the Hemingway original: "For the children, I remain his." Some, like writer Erica Jong’s contribution (“Much married, fourth time is charmed”), have a dark humor. Some, like poet Robert Hass’ memoir (“May I have the last dance?”) have a captivating ambiguity. My personal favorite is by poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman (“Wonder-filled, and never a dull torment.”)

I thought that it would be fun for us to celebrate our love of romance fiction by writing our own six-word memoirs of love and HEAs. You can share your own love story or you can assume the persona of a character from a favorite romance novel. Smith’s advice to his contributors should stand us in good stead as well: “write honestly, write truthfully, write specifically, and write quickly.”


I’ll start with a few examples:


Love’s memories console. One day—reunion.



She shot me. I fell hard.

                                    --Dain (Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase)


His walk. Lessons learned. Heart call.

                                     --Josie (Pleasure for Pleasure, Eloisa James)


Your turn, my friends. Give it a try. I promise these things are addictive. Just to encourage you, I’ll give one randomly selected memoirist a copy of one of my favorite new releases, No Longer a Gentleman by Mary Jo Putney. HEA is guranteed.


This post is adapted from one I posted in 2009 at Romance Vagabonds.




quantum said...

WANTED, Dad who loves my mum.

(A ONE WORD story left as a telephone message)

Its code for 'knickers off ready when I come home' LOL

PJ said...

Janga, I love your examples! One made me tear up, one made me smile and one made me chuckle as I remembered the delight of Josie and Mayne's story.

Q, your prologue is so poignant and your epilogue has me laughing out loud! :)

Here's mine.(I really am not good at this.)

Smiles warm the heart and soul.

Yesterday: student. Today: teacher. Treasured memories.

irisheyes said...

You are very talented Janga. When I first read this I thought - no way! But then I started playing with words in my head all afternoon and came up with one...

His absence. My longing. Marriage followed.

Janga said...

I love "Prologue", Q, and I'm still chuckling about NORWICH.

Janga said...

Thanks, PJ. And I think you are quite good at this. Both of yours are evocative and touching.

Janga said...

Thank you, Irish. I love almost any kind of word play. I'm glad you persisted, and I love your memoir. It reminded me of what I know of your love story.