Introduction to Nine Lives: A Life in 10 Minutes Anthology  

What happens when the truth slips out uncensored? When you unzip your skin and expose the tender, wildly beating heart beneath? When you paint a self portrait with words and guts instead of brush strokes and lines? What happens when you look back on who you were and where you came from and let it pour out of your pen, 10 minutes at a time?

Life in 10 Minutes is a project designed to encourage people to share the stories from their lives whether they consider themselves “writers” or not. No PhDs, degrees, or background in literary criticism is required to sit down and write the truth for ten minutes, editing for another 10 minutes after that. The anthology you hold in your hands is the culmination of moments and lifetimes, a compilation of 148 pieces composed in flashes and bursts. Think slice of life, flash nonfiction, polaroids. Writing straight from the heart that’s not edited down to the bone.

Initially, writing for 10 minutes at a time in our creative nonfiction classes was an arbitrary number that fit neatly into our allotment of time. But we were quickly blown away by just how much life, death, love, loss, sorrow, hilarity, and surprise could be stuffed into such a small package. We were hooked, delighted by how quickly we could gobble the pieces up and how surprisingly they both satisfied and left us hungry for more.

This anthology began as a place to celebrate the work of our students, but when we opened our call for submissions to the world at large we were blown away by the response that poured in. A reading committee was formed to select pieces for inclusion, not based on shine or polish, but on a visceral, gut-level response. We laughed, we cried, we felt hurt and celebration. We paused to wonder. They always made us feel.

The writers we’ve included come from around the world and our own backyard. They are professional authors and brand-spanking-new beginners. They are musicians, yoga instructors, doulas, salesmen, stay at home moms, inmates, high school students, retirees, artists, bankers and hip hop artists. They are a dazzling array of age, color, sex, profession, and nationality representing a vast spectrum of style, voice, and point of view.

Each piece is complete unto itself, but as you read them together, advancing through the stages of life from birth to death, from our first breath to our last, we hope you feel the same wonder we did as 9 Lives: A Life in 10 Minutes Anthology took on a life of its own.

Valley Haggard & Sarah Allen-Short, Co-Editors

Spring 2017