Magic Number of the Day: Six

6.pngToday I saw two (count ’em) two contests, both of which asked people to write something in six words or less.

In the TreeHugger + Smith Six-Word Memoir Contest, Treehugger (blog) and Smith (magazine) “challenge you to define your green life in just six words.”

In my unhumble opinion, this is stating it all wrong. I don’t want to hear about someone’s green life; if they’re living green, or even trying to, more power to ’em. I’d rather direct my righteous impatience at all the ungreens:

  • Stop driving your f—ing SUV.
  • Don’t idle when dropping off kids.
  • It ain’t Christmas. Turn lights off.

And today I read in the Freakonomics blog, they’re running a contest to “write a six-word motto for the U.S. of A.”

I’m too tired to bother coming up with those. Besides, there were 1,025 responses to the post last time I looked.

All this hexalogomania (like that? it’s sorta Greek) stems from a rather clever book by the founder of Smith magazine, Larry Smith, called Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Freakonomics gives him props, despite his egotistically eponymous magazine name, and Treehugger’s cosponsoring.

(And while we’re digressing about names, it’s not actually “Smith” magazine. It’s “SMITH” magazine. All caps. The hubris! Don’t know if it’s a good magazine or not. But if it commits crimes against Standard Written English like that, here’s a hint: I’M NOT SUBSCRIBING.)

Nonethelessandsuch, I like the idea of boiling a message down to a tight word count. I used to do that as an editor, and found it excellent practice. The old adage “If I had more time, I would have written less” doesn’t exist for nothin’, y’know.

The Webby Awards made a name for themselves by limiting award acceptance speeches to five words, and in this age of information overload (my Google Reader has 1,000+ items), why not make it pithy?

Besides, I recently entered a writing contest where I entered 100,632 words, and we all know how well that went.

PS – The headline has six words (6)

Aren’t I special? No, I’m not. (6)

At least I’m not named SMITH. (6)

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