Several months ago, I submitted a six-word memoir to the Six Words About Work contest held by noted memoir publication, SMITH Magazine. The goal was to see how people understood their work in six words. It was an amazing idea on many levels. It allowed people to express themselves in memoir form, while those same people had to engage in brevity (which isn’t always easy for memoirists!).
The magazine’s editor, Larry Smith, chose the six-word memoir I submitted to be included in a small collection of 400 six-word memoirs he considered the best: Six Words About Work. I certainly never thought my short memoir would make it into the book publication. Indeed, I was just happy to participate and to see so many others writing about their work. Some submitted memoirs highlighting negative aspects of work, and some submitted ones highlighting positive aspects. Such is the nature of work, no?
For my part, I submitted something positive, and the editor subsequently labeled it as “inspirational.” As a writer and writing teacher, it is a lovely feeling to see my thoughts and words published in formats people can enjoy. I don’t know if my pittance will help someone, but it serves as a good reminder that I am dedicating my life to something I truly believe in.
Here is my six-word memoir with a short backstory:
I’d like to thank the book editor, Larry Smith, for the opportunity to contribute to his project encouraging people to write about their lives and experiences. It’s important for people to recognize they often have stories relevant to others in the world. Their stories matter, and no one should ever be told their story doesn’t matter.
Brenda Ueland, the famed writing teacher and feminist, once wrote: “This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something to say.” Perhaps the bit about originality could be debated, but the heart of Ueland’s sentiment conveys a clear message: People often see, even if only slightly, the world differently than the person standing next to them, and their perception of the world is as relevant and valuable as anybody’s.
Ueland is right, and writing is an inherently intimate act. It is an act that carries our voice, our class, and our culture to various audiences, and we should all remember that what we have to say is important, even if it’s important to only a few.
Above all else, we should keep writing, keep living, and keep on keeping on.
Image from the author’s profile on smithmag.net.