Yesterday was my first day back in the classroom for the 2016-2017 school year. Every August I kick off the year by having my students write and share a six-word memoir.
Once asked to write a full story in six words, legend has it that novelist Ernest Hemingway responded: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.
“In this spirit writing something that is both precise and powerful, the online magazine Smith asked readers to write the story of their own lives in a single sentence. The result was Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs by famous and not-so-famous writers, artists and musicians. Their stories are sometimes sad, sometimes funny, and always straight to the point!
Here are some examples:
Well, I thought it was funny. — Stephen Colbert
I still make coffee for two. (penned by a 27-year-old who had just been dumped)
Extremely responsible, secretly longed for spontaneity. – Sabra Jennings
Joined Army. Came out. Got booted. – Johan Baumeister
The psychic said I’d be richer. – Elizabeth Bernstein
Painful nerd kid, happy nerd adult. – Linda Williamson
This first collection was so successful that later Smith magazine compiled another book of six-word memoirs, this time by teens. This book was called “I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets.”
Here are some of their stories:
“I don’t rock. Guitar Hero lies.” – Lacy F.
“Hair’s pink to piss you off.” – Stephanie N.
“I never got my Hogwarts letter.” – Deanna H.
“Finally learned ‘weird’ is a compliment.” – Teagan E.
“We’re the family you gossip about.” – Steven M.
“My diary is read by everyone.” – Taylor Swift
“Note to all boys: I quit.” – Lauren A.
“Aspiration: Colonize Mars. You’re not invited.” – Jordan H.
And so each year, I ask my students to write six-word memoirs of their own.
And I share with them mine, too:
Writing so we won’t be erased.
What’s your six-word memoir?