Monday, April 25, 2011

Getting to the Point

Since I like words and language, it can sometimes be hard for me to keep it short and sweet; I have a tendency to be a little... wordy. But, as they say, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and sometimes writing 6 words can be more of a challenge than writing 500 words. I recently read a book dedicated to the art of being concise. (By the way, if you’re into drinking games [with milk or water, of course], start paying attention to how many times I’ll reference a book in my blog posts.) The book was a collection of six-word memoirs. They asked people, both “famous and obscure,” to write their memoir using only six words.

Some were funny and clever, though still meaningful: “Underachieving... but willing to compensate halfheartedly,” or “Macular degeneration. Didn’t see that one coming.”

Some were sad: “I still make coffee for two,” and “My baby’s name was Sydney Jane.”

Some were startlingly honest: “Thank God the suicide attempt failed.”

Some even dealt with religion: “Living for Jesus because Earth sucks,” and “Not a good Christian, but trying.”

Some were just odd: “Aspiring lady pirate, disillusioned, sells boat.”

Mothers tended to be a theme: “Afraid of becoming like my mother,” “Became my mother. Please shoot me,” and “I’m my mother and I’m fine.”

I really identified with a few of them: “Can’t read all the time. Bummer.” “Right brain working left brain job.” “Realized childhood dreams don’t pay bills.”

I really liked the title of the book: “Not quite what I was planning.”

As I said, I’m wordy, which is why I’m just now getting to the point – sometimes whittling life down to the bare bones can really simplify things. The words that would fill in the gaps to further explain those six-word memoirs would be important and interesting, but they can also clutter things up and distract from the main point. Some of the memoirs in the book were so poignant because they were so short.

In addition to words, I like answers and I like to know things, so I can sometimes get very wrapped up in the theology of Christianity, wanting to know the tough answers – Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does God allow suffering? Who did Adam & Eve’s children marry? And it goes on and on. What if I just simplified it? What if I narrowed it down a bit? What if I stopped questioning and just followed this six-word rule: “God said it. I believe it.”

At the risk of being struck by lightning, here are a couple six-word memoirs I came up with that could come from Jesus: “Died on the cross. Rose again.” Or maybe, “I did it all for you.”

One from God: “Loved my son. Loved you more.”

I’ve always liked this quick sum-up of the Bible; it’s more than 6 words, but it’s still pretty darn short considering what they had to work with:

God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Jacob fooled
Joseph ruled
Bush talked
Pharaoh plagued
Sea divided
Tablets guided
Promise landed
Judges led
Saul freaked
David peeked
Kingdom divided
Prophets warned
People exiled
Hope rose
Jesus born
God walked
Anger crucified
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread
God remained

There’s certainly a time and place for learning all we can about God, the Bible, Christianity... for digging into the meaning of Revelation, or discussing whether you believe in predestination or free will, but there’s also something to be said for just keeping it simple every now and then to help us focus on the main point.

So this wasn’t a short post, but I did warn you that I was wordy. By the way, I did try to write my own abbreviated memoir. Here’s what I eventually ended up with: “Wasted time on six little words.”


  1. To cover the copyright bases, the book referenced is called "Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure" by Smith Magazine

  2. I'm thinking we probably won't have copyright lawyers beating down or blog doors demanding their due acknowledgement, but thank you for thinking of it.

    I so, so enjoyed this post. I'm wordy, too, and yet one of my favorite activities each week is taking the chapter or chapters I'm studying in the Bible and condensing it to 10 words or less. Hearing from God in short bursts is much better for me than having to dig for it. Now I need to think of my 6 word memoir. "Talked too much...people gave up?" "Loves to laugh, please join in:)" This will keep me busy for a while!

  3. GREAT post Janda!!!!!!! I just saw someone post this on my FB page and came back here to add it to my post! Jesus' Death Reconciles - - - Jesus' Life Saves

  4. Ooh, Garvisa, that's a good one! I like it!

    Paula, that's an intersting study tactic; I might have to give it a try. And I like your "laugh" memoir.