Column: It’s your life – in six words

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Dec. 4, 2008

In the newspaper business, we’re used to using a lot of words to describe someone.

But a new book, “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure,” shows that’s not always necessary.

The book asked writers and celebrities to describe their lives in six words.

Some good examples come from essayist Chuck Klosterman – Nobody cared, then they did. Why? – and comedian Stephen Colbert – Well, I thought it was funny.

My personal favorite was from Amy Sedaris of “Strangers with Candy” fame – Mushrooms. Clowns. Wands. Five. Wig. Thatched.

According to their Web site, the editors of the book – Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser of the online magazine, SMITH – said they got the idea from a legend about Ernest Hemingway, who supposedly was challenged to write a novel in only six words and came up with “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

For more information on the book, you can visit

After reading through a few of the entries, it got me to thinking: Can I write a memoir in six words?

It was easier than I thought. In fact, I came up with two of them.

· Cold and longing for a beach

· Jolly journalism junkie wants a nap

Having had so much fun coming up with my own, I asked the Chronicle staff for theirs, as well:

· Reporter Eric Schelkopf – Life. Death. What does it mean?

· Reporter Jonathan Bilyk – Constantly contemplating yet another quippy comeback.

· Reporter Kate Thayer – I learn something new each day.

· Photo editor H. Rick Bamman – Always looking for a good restaurant.

· Sports editor Jay Schwab – Calm, family oriented, believer in traditions.

· Newsroom assistant Kay Nolan – Always like to clip old newspapers.

Now, it’s your turn. Write your memoir in six words and e-mail it to me at Be sure to include your name and the town you live in. I’ll publish the best ones in my Sunday column.

I’m excited to see what you all come up with. I guess you could say I’m …

Looking forward to writing Sunday’s column.


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