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Six-Word Memoir Assignment

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  • 1. Writing a six-word memoir... In order to narrow down a life into six words, a writer needs to begin with many words and ideas. Follow these instructions to complete a six-word memoir…
  • 2. Writing a six-word memoir... In November 2006, writer and editor Larry Smith issued a challenge to fans of his Web publication, SMITH Magazine. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway's legendary shortest of short stories ("For sale: Baby shoes, never worn"), Smith asked his readers to describe their lives in six words. The Six-Word Memoir contest officially ended after a month, but the stories kept coming. Five years on, participants have contributed more than half a million mini-memoirs. Smith has published five compilations of the intensely personal accounts and continues his online quest to spark the creativity of aspiring writers. "There is inspiration everywhere," he says. "Even if you don't think you're a storyteller, you are."
  • 3. Six-word memoirs... Dolores Tuffin Free falling, ready for my future Jennifer Boire Spiritual being having a human experience Snabors Taking each step tenaciously and joyfully Cindy Starry Flow within your heart's joy forever danisue1 Hula hooping life, looking for balance leslie_bal nobody loves you like your mother!?!?!?! samiam_am Searching, finding, winning, losing, happy, sad!
  • 4. Six-word memoirs... Best Wordplay: “Meditation: Personal search engine via inner-net.” -trust2020 Funniest: “15,000 days spent considering a bellybutton.” -Anstey Most Sensory: “Hardwired for coupling. Short-circuited being single.” -TawnyPort Most Circular: “Dad’s baby now changing Dad’s diapers.” –eileenpat Most Self-Aware: “Won’t let magazines shape my body.” -songwriter Bonus #7—Celebrity Six-Worder of the Week: “Not funny. Funny. Not funny. Funny?” - Jimmy Fallon. ”Wishing sadness and geometry made sense.” - Grounded Clouds
  • 5. Start with a list List as many words, topics, memories, or personality traits as you can about yourself – activities you do, items, belongings, places you like, and feelings you have. Don’t edit, cross out, change, or rewrite words. Don’t worry about spelling – just write. You are going for quantity, so write as much as you can in about three minutes. You should fill at least one full page.
  • 6. Example list: Singer, writer, happy, tired, overworked, camping, colorful, shoes, sea shore, dragons, faeries, teacher, Spanish, Internet, laughing, cartoons, 70s, rock music, Jeep, teddy bears, church, baths, jingles, gum, crayons, super heroes, technology, legos, reading, Saturday morning, dancing, weight lifting, Ziggy, more shoes, sunrises, mother, daughters, snakes, dogs, mythology, thinking, dreamer, fries…
  • 7. Now, circle the two or three words that stand out for you, the ones that you could say more about.
  • 8. Example list: Singer, writer, happy, tired, overworked, camping, colorful, shoes, sea shore, dragons, faeries, teacher, Spanish, Internet, laughing, cartoons, 70s, rock music, Jeep, teddy bears, church, long baths, jingles, gum, crayons, super heroes, technology, legos, reading, Saturday morning, dancing, weight lifting, Ziggy, more shoes, sunrises, mother, daughters, snakes, dogs, mythology, thinking, dreamer, fries
  • 9. Pick one item and freewrite about the thought. That means you just start writing about that idea, object, role, or event. The only rule is don’t stop writing for at least two or three minutes. Whatever comes to mind is fair game. Example: mother
  • 10. Freewrite example… I’ve been a mother for 25 years and have 3 2/5 kids. This means that two are step-children. They do not want me to be their mother, but they want their mother to be me. This is a difficult situation that will never be resolved. As for my other three children, I have a daughter and two sons. I have learned that being a parent is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I am not only responsible...
  • 11. Freewrite continued… ...for myself but also for the lives of two other people (the other 3 are grown-ups now). I can only control so much of what they do and no matter how much I think something is right or wrong, they will end up doing what they want. Sometimes they are right, but sometimes they aren’t so right. Then the consequences hurt, especially when they have to pay for choices that I might have been able to help them avoid.
  • 12. Synthesize As a result of the freewrite, you have a sense of your topic. Synthesize your writing (combine the individual elements into an understandable whole), into a phrase that captures the essence or nuance of what your topic means to you. The topic of the previous writer was “mother.” Her idea captured the struggle of helping someone go through life’s lessons and dealing with one's own lack of control.
  • 13. a 6-word memoir… Helping them grow ages me daily.
  • 14. Now, go back to the freewrite… Re-craft the freewrite into an effective 5-step paragraph that offers an engaging lead, clarifies, elaborates, offers at least two specific, detailed examples, and concludes in an effort to capture the memoir’s meaning.
  • 15. Now create a final six-word-memoir by using these steps: 1. Create a “you” list – fill the page. 2. Pick 2 – 3 items that inspire you to say more. 3. From those items you circled, select one. 4. Freewrite about your idea for several minutes/a full page or two. 5. Develop a 6-word phrase that captures a sense of your writing. 6. Self-Edit: Make at least one type of change--word choice, varying sentences, or punctuation. 7. 2nd Draft: Conference with another student or parent. 8. Go back to your freewrite. Produced an effective 5-step paragraph that offers an engaging lead, clarifies, elaborates, offers at least two specific, detailed examples, and concludes in an effort to capture the memoir’s meaning from the freewrite. 9. Final Draft: Create your 6-word memoir and create a PowerPoint slide or drawing/photo with the six-word memoir so you have a background picture(s). Print or send me your slide (through Email or Edmodo).
  • 16. Details & Examples: Create a single PowerPoint slide or drawing/photo that captures you and include your 6-word memoir. NOTE: A slide without the paragraph = only half of the assignment = 50%
  • 17. Six-word-memoir example paragraph #1: Inner cowboy adrift on literate shores. My rural, Cracker-cowboy, Florida childhood took a detour when my parents were divorced, and I spent my teenage years on the beaches of Florida's west coast. My passion for reading led me in and out of college and along twisted paths and hallways of educational institutions. A variety of teaching positions on several levels actually enhanced my appreciation of well-written literature. Teaching Shakespeare, Frost, Poe, and Macdonald have offered stimulating journeys that invigorate the mind. My explorations continue when youthful intellects engage and share the adventures.
  • 18. Inner cowboy adrift on literate shores
  • 19. Six-word-memoir example #2 with a paragraph: Seeking home, balance outside a turbulent world Being adopted as a child gave me a different perspective on what it means to feel at home. I discovered early on that biology has nothing to do with belonging or not belonging. I have constantly sought a sense of balance throughout my life, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Balance can be found in a piece of literature or music that helps make sense of the world, often in interactions with family and friends. At other times this sense has been present in the give and take of a relationship or assisting others in need. In a most basic form, a sense of balance can be present amid silence, the simplicity of waves crashing on a shoreline, or a breathtaking sunrise away from the chaos of the world. I have discovered that balance and the feeling of home can be both internal and external and often is present in the unlikeliest of places.
  • 20. Seeking home, balance outside a turbulent world