There’s a popular writing prompt called Six-Word Memoirs that’s making the rounds on blogs and magazines. Life in the Boomer Lane, AARP, and NPR have all published pieces encouraging us to craft our own. They are clever and succinct—a story in six well-chosen, magical words. Hemingway did it first, and probably best (though the authenticity of this is in some doubt): “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
I love the idea and have attempted to conjure six word stories for years, with nothing to show for it. My trouble is that I can’t edit down to only six words. I write, I am happy, and every time, I have exceeded my word count. To play by the rules means giving up one or more of my favorites. Listen, I don’t leave food on my plate, or extra wine in my glass, and I certainly don’t leave words that I love behind. While I wish I could be disciplined, it’s just not in my nature.
So I did what any undisciplined, creative person would do… I made my own rules. One line, as many words as needed. Enough to start a story, before it’s time to stop. My memoirs, my rules.
Here are my midlife memoirs. Tell me yours in the comments section. And you have permission to use as many words as you like!
Gray hair, hiding in the browns, pretending to be a wayward blond in low light.
I think it might be too late to get a tattoo, or climb Kilimanjaro or hang at Burning Man. Then again.
I never imagined this, or you. You showed up, connected the dots, and filled in the blank spaces. What it was like for you?
Nothing bad has ever happened. At least not yet. At least not to her.
She dreams of sleeping all day, mostly when she is awake all night.
I wonder if these earrings will make my butt look smaller?
Were we ever parents of two young children? Sometimes I can barely remember that moment.
I am fifty-six. I should be able to read the words “black-tie optional” without having a panic attack.
All those possibilities and potential in one full life. It’s easier to manage the overwhelm when I realize it’s not actually about me.
I may never learn how to cook a proper roast, cast off my knitting, or use an ATM. And yet, they call me a grown up.
On the ski trip she decided that marriage was worthwhile, if only to have someone to tell you that you haven’t rubbed in the sunscreen and there’s a leftover bit in your ear.
Would it be so wrong to eat a handful of cough drops and call it dessert?
There were times when the dog loved her most. His greeting alone made it all worthwhile.
She raised them to be independent—so they made their own lives, in new places. Perhaps she overshot.
Fear is a great motivator. However, as I get older, I fear less. Once you’ve accepted elastic waistbands, humiliation doesn’t hold the same power.
Just so you know, that was a very funny story when I told it to myself. With my outside voice, not so much.
Elves and an eight-day week, he said. That’s all you need to get it done. Finally, a realistic solution to my work/life/sleep/creative crisis.
How did my mother’s hands become my own? When did that happen, and what was I so engrossed in that I didn’t notice the transformation?
I pretend like we’re in midlife. But that’s only if we live to 112. It’s 66.8%, if I am lucky, and if I were the type to count my life by numbers.
P.S. I have another set of one liners on my personal blog, Tour of No Regrets, this week. Those are a less memoir, more in-the-moment. Come visit!