Writing contest: Who says you don’t have time to write?

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The tale goes like this: In the 1920s, someone bet Ernest Hemingway $10 that he couldn’t write a story in six words. Being as that’s $1.66 a word — a rate that would be considered not too bad today — Hemingway came up with the above.

And the six-word story challenge endures. In 2006, Wired asked several authors for theirs and had them illustrated (many implied violence, like Frank Miller’s ‘With bloody hands, I say good-bye.’) Two years earlier, Black Book asked several authors for theirs, which ended up with an infidelity bent (“Forgive me!” “What for?” “Never mind.” — John Updike).


Earlier this year, Smith Magazine published a book of six-word works: ‘Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.’ The book must be doing pretty well, because they’re going to do another one. And they’re asking for your contribution — memoirs only, please.

Some of the submissions in the running:

  • Most days, I was the windshield.
  • Did what I wanted. Paying now.
  • Sleeping with the enemy. Marriage POW.
  • I wanted to see you cry.
  • He didnt want me or baby.
  • Moved to Oklahoma. Never been happier.
  • Mug shot was a flattering likeness.

What does it take to enter? Type in your six words, give them your name and e-mail address. Who knows — with the time it takes to sip a cup of coffee, you could pen your memoir.
— Carolyn Kellogg