Writing Challenge: One-Sentence Memoirs for the New Year

The One-sentence Memoir Challenge

This challenge is open until February 1.

I challenge you to write as many one-sentence memoirs as you can in 15 minutes, and then share them with us in the comments below.

Here are mine:

My 4-year-older sister says that she can’t remember ever thinking of me as a baby but always thought of me as an equal.

It was a year after my husband’s death that I found the pictures he had taken of me looking at his sculptures at that art show I had gone to before we ever met.

When he said that he only drank on vacation, I didn’t realize that he meant he ONLY drank on vacation.

My youngest stepson called me his wicker stepmother, which might or might not have been due to my basket collection.

“There’s a big black scorpion on the wall beside the toilet in my bathroom and it’s wagging it’s tail at me!”

My parents’ bedroom contained many secrets, including my father’s gallstones in a small pink cardboard box and a mysterious cap-shaped rubber object in a white plastic case that smelled of talcum and sometimes changed positions in my mother’s bottom drawer, otherwise used for mainly incidental or forgotten items.

I was 13 on that summer that I decided my father was planning on murdering us all. 

When I asked it to prove that it was really a flying saucer, it suddenly lifted into the air and zigzagged from barrow pit to barrow pit in the road behind me.

My sister told her children not to believe anything I ever told them.

My mother is a bottom drawer. In her I keep my past down low, disorganized, how I can stand it.

One by one, they climbed over the wall and ascended the steps up to the upper story of my house, swarming up over its high dome, where they danced.

When I asked her if she’d like to hear the real story of my 15 months in Africa, my mother said, “I never told my mother anything that would make her feel bad!’


I look forward to your sharing your one-sentence memoirs!!! (If you want to cheat and take longer, go ahead. Just try to be spontaneous and not to mull too long over each one. Let the thoughts come freely.) This was an exercise that Judy Reeves had us do in our Wild Woman Retreat. Please link your answers to this site: https://judydykstrabrown.com/2020/01/01/one-sentence-memoirs-for-the-new-year/

29 thoughts on “Writing Challenge: One-Sentence Memoirs for the New Year

  1. isaiah46ministries

    Living to party with the fourth generation has made me aware that several ancestors were strong enough to survive the passage from Africa, and we owe it to them to live fully, including voting against hate.

    I didn’t escape poverty all by myself, for that I thank everyone who has contributed through the years with help and hopeful words to me being the woman, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, professor, woman of God, and lover of life that I am today.

    Every time I think that I will say goodbye to my blog, I remember another story I want to tell or a tale to share with others, hoping to touch someone’s heart and soul, to let them know that trials and tribulations come, but all of them will pass, eventually.

    Falling in love in your fifties, and having someone to spend the sixties and beyond with has been one of the greatest gifts my Father in heaven has given to me, as my husband is a real treasure from above.

    My dream was fulfilled at age 54, a doctorate, and I am still trying to use this gift to help others be all that God intended them to be, through making myself available to them and asking God for a discerning heart so that no student falls through the cracks on my watch.

    Being a mother has been the hardest work with the greatest blessings, and I am so thankful that I had the privilege to mother my five beauties, each one different, but none less valuable than the others.

    Thanks, Judy. Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dawnbirdau

    Around the age of six I gazed at a distant fleck of a plane and knew I would travel the world one day.

    After completing a clinical doctorate I telephoned my mother to share my news only to hear her say, “if you hadn’t gallivanted around the world in your youth, you could have been a real doctor today”.

    I learned in my forties, if you navel gaze too long, you find useless fluff.

    I now understand the difference between being alone and being lonely.

    My faith has taught me to pray less and listen more, so I seek solitude each day.

    Despite it all, I am able to love.

    What a lovely challenge, Judy and thank you for a few minutes of reflection. Happy New Year! Dawn

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Judy Reeves

    Hey Judy, I love that you’re sharing the idea for one-sentence memoirs in a timed session with your readers. I’ve had so much fun with this myself. I first read about the idea in an article by Beth Ann Fennelly, whose book, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro Memoirs, set me on the path of writing the small memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. josiahspain

    Hi Judy , what a great challenge. I’m in Uruguay on holiday, now there is a sentence I never thought I would say , being from the UK, I’ll definitely take up the challenge when I’m home. Thanks .


      1. josiahspain

        Hi Judy . I had a spare 15 minutes before we get the ferry across the Rio del Plata.

        Overlooking the River plate, eating lunch and listening to the chatter of languages I don’t understand but everyone is listening to James Taylor from the speakers; music transcends.

        The river that looks like a sea, brown and wide, waves and ships. it divides two nations with the same language. A false frontier.

        A cafe in Buenos Aeries with white table cloths, strong coffee and a jazz trio playing from a mezzanine floor. I kept looking for Eva Perón to walk in.

        The raised walkway led us on and on towards the rumble in the jungle. As we got nearer the rain came without announcement. We reached the Devils throat wet through but utterly exhilarated.

        I could see the water gather speed as it flowed towards the falls and the 80 metre drop to the boiling spitting river below. What came to mind surprised me; what a great place to play Pooh sticks!

        We read our books by the pool in the jungle, quiet and restful, unaware that the jungle creatures were taking their places to start the show. The band struck up as dusk fell. A symphony of Cicadas, birds and other insects to play for our delight.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Announcements and New Challenges – Cee's Photo Challenges

      1. slmret

        Judy — the following is a 15-minute one-sentence memoir. As I look at it, it’s not very personal — with a little more time I would have fleshed it out with more personal thoughts, but here goes:

        My earliest memory was looking over the Army base after an earthquake to survey the damage.
        =Then the night Daddy came home from WWII after 3-1/2 years away — we were dressed in identical white sundresses with strawberries embroidered on the winged sleeves.
        =And the night of the school rummage sale, when my mother and the family left her booth where she had promised she would be — I followed them around the school as the disappeared around one corner after another. We stopped at the fire station on the way home.
        =I remember the house we didn’t buy, and then moving into the house I grew up in.
        =Halloween evenings — not good memories — was too hot running around unknown dark neighborhoods several miles from home to beg for candy.
        =I changed schools several times because the class size was too small, because I outgrew the range of the school, for one year at 9th grade, and to the high school. Then, at age 16, flew to the east coast to a college my English grandmother would recognize (she’d never been to the US).
        =At age 15, a summer-long trip to Paris, Austria, Switzerland, London, Scotland, Ireland, London, and home through Denmark, Greenland, and Canada. Returned home on the hottest day of the year.
        =I have various memories of college, but I was way too young for an Ivy League school so far from home. Transferred to a more local school for a year, and was married the following summer.
        =After five years, a divorce. I worked in student aid for 30 years after that, with a short break when I couldn’t find a student aid job in Hawaii. Let go from first Hawaii student aid job because the President was misusing Federal funds — I was too close to the situation for his comfort.
        =Worked for schools, State guarantee agency, lender, and secondary market in student loans until my retirement. For a while, walking into an airplane was like walking into an office. Much time spent on LA freeways while in outside sales.
        =Retired after 7 years in my last job, and began to travel. Visited Alaska, Panama Canal, New Zealand, Australia, Antarctica, Hudson Bay (Canada),
        =Blogged as a way to obtain feedback relative to my photography.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ms D.

    I have four brothers and a sister but I am an only child.

    I don’t believe in marriage, but I’ve done it more times than I should have.

    My best work has been the mothering of over a thousand children of other mothers; my hardest job has been mothering my own.

    I’m a really funny person, it’s just that I don’t let anyone know it.

    I’m a glass three quarters full kind of gal, preferably Riesling.

    If you asked me what historical person I’d like to have dinner with, I’d answer Julia Child.

    I stuff my turkey with cornbread as an homage to the Southern mother I lost in toddlerhood; I don’t even know if she liked cornbread, or turkey, but it makes me feel closer to her.

    I have deep faith, but no religion, at least according to those who deem my Pennsylvania Quaker ancestors non-Christians.

    Time’s up! This was hard, but fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tammie Rogers

    From: https://tammierogers.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/message-2-of-eight-minutes-of-advice/
    We must remember that in the 1960’s when I was living with an alcoholic mother and a father who tried to yell her out of her condition, he didn’t know any better and I was a little girl.

    I have heard that we should listen to the whispers in our head, as they are signals we may use to achieve our greatest purpose in life, but I have many thoughts and I find it challenging to decipher the gibberish from the grand plan.

    Liked by 2 people


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