Overheard in a Northbrook computer store: Two guys are browsing laptops. One complains to his friend that he wants to write his life story “on one of these” because the kids might like it some day. But, he says, tapping a keyboard, “I am no writer.”
The friend replies, “One piece of advice. Keep it short!”
This strikes a chord for an eavesdropper who believes in brevity. Their conversation is getting good…
“Just type out some short memories,” the friend says. “Five or six lines, max. (You wonder: is the guy’s name “Max?” Or…) And he goes on. “Think of a cool event. Grab it and just jot it down.”
The first guy chuckles, seeming to like the idea. His friend says, “Do it again whenever the spirit moves you. Get a bunch of non-boring snippets from a hard life and put ‘em on a hard drive. They don’t even have to be in order.”
“Hmm,” the first guy muses. “Keeping ‘em short’ll make ‘em easy to write and read.”
His buddy replies, “Today, your average human has the attention span of a hummingbird.” Then he adds, “When you get a hundred or so, you’ve got a modern memoir. Unless you’re a reincarnation of James Joyce, keep these things short.”
The first guy was asking something about who James Joyce is, but his friend was no longer listening. A large TV on the wall was showing a news headline in a crawl at the screen’s bottom, or maybe it was a sports score. No matter. It was an irresistible attention-getter, nice and short.