Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
I can relate—it’s so much harder for me to get a point across concisely than to say it in a verbose way, using lots of decorative, superfluous adjectives (not to mention extraneous parenthetical comments that should just as well be chopped out). (Ahh! See what I just did there?)
When I was a kid, I would tell stories at the dinner table, and inevitably my dad would stop me partway through. “Hold on,” he’d say. “Can you tell me the short version?”
I’d just stare at him blankly. There is no short version! It’s either the whole story, complete with narrative arc, character development, and sensory descriptions, or there’s no story at all.
So when my writing group recently did an exercise in which the goal was to write as succinctly as possible, I found myself all but paralyzed. How can you communicate an entire message in such a short space?
I decided to dust off my old English notes and try writing a haiku. Maybe the strictly enforced parameters would help me trim my word count. Three lines, and only three lines. No wiggle room on the syllables either: five, seven, five. Every word would have to count.
Here’s what I came up with—my story of grace, in under twenty words:
Chasing down my dream
God slams the door in my face
The doorjamb of grace
My challenge for you today: Can you tell a story of God working in your life in twenty words or less? Or if you’re feeling ambitious, try your hand at your own haiku. I’d be honored to read it—please share it in the comments!