Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Six Word Memoirs

Today was the first day of classes. It’s a whole new start of a school year (another August, but without the sun). I’ve been teaching for seven years now (14 first days), and the first day still makes me nervous. I have a hard time sleeping the night before and feel like I’m the new kid in school when I stand up in front of my new students.

I start off the class by telling my students that they’re going to write poems. Most of them freak out a bit because they didn’t expect to write poetry on the first day. However, I assure them that it will be fun. I have them write Six Word Memoirs, which are six word sentences that “tell your life story.” I have my students create a poem by going through different stages of their lives (birth, toddler years, elementary years, junior high, highs school and then the sum total of their lives so far) using only six words. We have a lot of fun with these and they come up with some pretty cool stuff.

I show examples from old students and we come up with some Six Word Memories of my own.

These are the ones I came up with today. I wrote about the past year and my book. Here are a few that I came up with:

Write, revise, write again, keep revising.

Rejection, rejection, rejection, can I call?

Rachele meet agent, dream moves closer.

Words swim in front of eyes.

Light from laptop is my sun.

Sugar, Tea, Coffee, keep on writing.

When I first started writing Canary I wrote a bunch of Six Word Memoirs for my main character Kate. I liked trying to condense her life, her story, into just six words

Year of firsts, no mother’s advice.

Dad, Brett, Me, continued fake family.

We had empty conversations at home.

I embraced Beacon, Brett damned Beacon.

Jack made varsity, I made popularity.

Everyone and no ones knew me.

I shine, Brett faded in the dark.

Brett curls in, recluse at school.

Pulling Jack close, pushing Brett away.

My dad’s away, I will play.

Need to stop, want to race.

Father doesn’t notice, I am different.

Pretend to be older, ignore expectations.

Privilege grants a life of entitlement.

My world again revolves around basketball.

What about you? Can you sum up your character’s life in six words? What about your book? What about your own life? Share your Six Word Memoirs with me!


Melissa said...

This is such an interesting idea. I've never heard of it, and what you've come up with is brilliant!

I guess my own six word memoir would be something to the effect of:

"Words spill like waterfalls on paper."


"Excessive caffeine leads to vibrant stories."

I think my MC's story would be something like:

"Enveloped in both fire and ice."

Anabel said...

This is a very interesting project. I can totally visualize your student's faces when you say they are going to write a poem ;)

Okay it's actually harder than I thought... I'll give it a try for me.

Last semester, study, work, read, write.
Care for my son and husband.
Read boring cases not good novels.

My MC:

Scared and lost expecting a miracle.
Miracle came it's a baby girl.
I have to hide to survive.
Love will heal what's not right.

Brooke said...

This is a great idea.

For me:
Sort, wash, dry, fold, put away.
Two small children; precious writing time.
War with Anabel, word count rises.

My MC:
Instant guardianship--welcome to proxy motherhood.
Aleks needs to get a grip.
Unexpected blessings rise from the ashes.
Can't lose hope of finding Luke.
Raising two girls together as sisters.

Lisa and Laura said...

I love these. What a great way to take the pressure off of writing poetry. I would have loved a teacher like you!

Mine would read something like...

Blackness spills through family room windows.

But the family has said goodnight.

Eyelids grow heavy, exhaustion sets in.

Double click and begin your day.

You're bringing out my inner poet...again. Watch out!

Angie said...

Haha. I like this idea. I'll try a few for my WIP, off the top of my head.

Life was dark, then Sam entered.

I got so excited, I peed.

A wish? A wish? For me?

Sharks, androids and Aston Martins, Oh my!

Ryan said...

"In the moment. Where am I?"

Just the first 6 words that came to mind. Came here through Nathan's blog.

Why not tell all your students about your blog. That will bring some traffic your way. Sneak in a few excerpts from their writing. Bring them along for the ride. Showing them how you are continuing to learn and grow and reach for something is a powerful thing.

I posted a few cat and dog excerpts from my memoir on Facebook pages and got over a hundred hits in one day. Some really heartfelt comments left by strangers made me feel oh-so good! Leaving "real" and helpful comments on forums and blogs with your link helps too. I get maybe five hits a day or so from Nathan's blog. Whether they stay and read and watch my videos I have no idea!