I’ve spent the last couple of weeks helping the Utah State Office of Education roll out the Common Core State Standards to some 5000 teachers throughout the state. Scores of facilitators have traveled the state to educate educators about the core and to share teaching strategies as well. While we’ve been sharing lots of lesson ideas, my FAVORITE is the 6-word memoir. They are fun to write and interesting to read.
Legend has it that someone pressed Ernest Hemingway to write a novel using only 6 words – an appropriate request for the king of minimalism who didn’t disappoint. His creation tells a story of loss and heartbreak.
The first time I remember reading 6-word memoirs was when I qualified for AARP membership and received the organizations magazine for geezers. Some made me chuckle; some made me think; and some, like Hemingway’s, made me reach for the Kleenex or the toilet paper, depending on where I was perusing the column.
It takes some thought to sum up an experience in 6 words, but tweeting on Twitter is good practice because the writer has to weigh every word, and if one is a light-weight, out it goes. I noticed that most mini-memoirists keeps playing around with the words until the statement feels “just right.” Sometimes that happens in a matter of minutes and sometimes it takes a matter of … minutes. (I don’t know of many writers from our classes who pulled an all-nighter trying to exact 6 perfect words.)
Some writers created HUMOROUS mini-memoirs like this one:
“Yikes! Former student is my proctologist.”
Others are TENDER:
“Dad: Always worried and very proud.”
Many are just REALISTIC:
“Taxi: Booked for next 7 years.”
“Seeking simplicity in world of complexity.”
“Two-year-old whacked Nanna with golf club.”
“Dreaming of cool water; sandy toes.”
“Waiting for peace in my loss.”
“Left finger itching for THE question.”
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In Parting: One sweet teacher told me that writing and sharing the memoir was even therapeutic as she reflected upon a recent hiking accident where she and her grandson tumbled some 50 feet down a trail. It was a frightening and painful experience that ended miraculously.
I feel blessed that during this past month I met some wonderful people and learned that even something as simple as this little exercise provided a way to build communities of new friends.
P.S. Wondering if I created a 6-word memoir? Yes, I did. But before I share, I invite YOU to comment with YOUR mini-memoir!
So here’s my attempt. I wrote a couple to make a simple comparison of two lives a couple of generations apart.
My grandmother’s memoir: “Raised 13 children during Great Depression.”
My memoir: “Raised 4 boys; suffered great depression.”
Note to sons: You know I am kidding! Raising you 4 was the adventure of a life time! Love you!