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SixContest: Share your stories of sun — sunshine, sun burns, the people and places that brighten your life — in exactly six words.
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Thanksgiving Tag

Just before Thanksgiving four years ago, SMITH’s tiny, part-time team, consisting of co-founder, Tim Barkow, and senior editor, Rachel Fershleiser (pictured here at our book launch party with Summer Grimes, whose six-worder, "Not quite what I was planning," became the book's title, not to mention soul of a story told in six-word sentences in The New Yorker), and I quietly tossed out a challenge to the SMITH Magazine community: "How would you describe your life in exactly six words?" Our challenge was a personal twist on the legendary Hemingway six-word novel ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") which we dubbed the Six-Word Memoir (appropriate for a site about memoir, after all). You can see our rather scrappy inaugural Six-Word Memoir project design (above) from 2006. When I went home for the holiday, I remember telling my family about the latest spaghetti we'd thrown at the proverbial SMITH Mag wall, and then watching as something fascinating unfolded: everyone started sharing Six-Word Memoirs at the table. The youngest member of my family and the oldest alike came up with sixes. The most writerly and least likely to crack a book both got the bug. Among three generations, and various attitudes and aptitudes, anyone could write a Six-Word Memoir—and everyone loved hearing what others came up with. Hmmmm, I thought, this might work.