Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s shortest short story ever—For Sale: baby shoes, never worn—Six Word Memoirs were born nearly ten years ago. Publisher Larry Smith is their papa. Since then, Smith Magazine and media from The Colbert Report to NPR to The New Yorker to O! have published the little gems. Everyone, it seems, wants to tell their story in a mere six words. Steven Colbert’s? (Well, I thought it was funny.) Writer Amy Tan’s? (Former boss: writing’s your worst skill) There’s even an app and you can find them everywhere.
This year I decided that each week we’ll devote one entire hour to reading (“You mean we read for the whole hour?!) and one day to writing. So the first week of school, SWMs seemed like a good place to start. I gave a short explanation of the process, shared with the kids one I wrote (It wasn’t always happily ever after), and let them loose. They drafted, shared their memoirs with classmates, and then chose their favorite to post anonymously on the wall.
The memoirs cover everything from the prosaic to the sublime. The kids wrote about their family, their pain, their dreams … and they just might be my favorite student writing of all time.
Try writing yours.