It All Changed in an Instant

My Review of It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure

I’m a (pre) baby-boomer and, last spring as I approached my 69th birthday, I got a little nostalgic and started looking up books on memoir writing. Not that I wanted to write an actual book about my life story, but I was looking for ways to get some of my thoughts, experiences and philosophy across in shorter, alternative ways.

My Kindle and Amazon Prime make book buying easy, so I searched “memoir” keywords and purchased The Power of Memoir as a paperback and three more books on writing memoirs and life stories for my Kindle.

Of course, Amazon always gives you more options when you search for a keyword. So I looked at their recommendations.

And what came up for me – and delighted me immensely – was It All Changed In An Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure. I ordered it right away, because I loved the idea of encapsulating entire thoughts and events in six words. It requires discipline, creativity and the courage to speak truth without hiding behind obfuscations and embellishments.

Begun as a project of Smith Magazine in 2006, the concept of explaining your life in six words caught on quickly and spread like wildfire, aided by Twitter posts especially. According to Smith Magazine, almost 1 million submissions have been received, many of which have made their way into print, as the series of books keeps expanding. In fact, if you feel inspired to try a few six-worders yourself, you can submit them on the Six-Word Memoirs website.

It All Changed in An Instant

Click the graphic to read more reviews

The Six Word Memoir books are slightly addictive – and fun!

I’ll eventually order the other books in the 6-word memoir series, but there are so many good ones in this book that I still have fun just opening it at random and reading the 10 pithy memoirs on each two-page spread. A number of submissions even came with their own graphics; the ones chosen for the book range from hilarious to heart-wrenching… and are very much to the point.

In this book are 6-word memoirs by famous people, including Gay Talese (Friendship test: willingness to be inconvenienced) and Malcolm Gladwell (Father: “Anything but journalism.” I rebelled.) and regular people like us.

You can preview some of the 6-word memoirs yourself by visiting the book’s page on Amazon, which gives the history of the project and some humdinger memoirs by people you’ve heard of… or not. Published in 2010, this book follows Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, which came out in 2008.

If you love to write and love a challenge… it’s worth taking a peek inside the book(s) to inspire yourself to give it a try. I’ve come up with a few of my own already.


Day job bookkeeping. Real work writing.

Good writer striving to be great.

My system: Intuit and do it.

Locked keys in car, motor running.

© 2014 Barbara Casey  •  This review was originally published on and briefly on 

Leave a Reply