Seems you can’t think about the holidays without talking about gift giving. As we’ve seen in this week’s Sixes, presents are on everyone’s mind. Whether you devote money or time (“More gift wrapper than gift ripper.”), gifting seems to consume all of our resources (“Dollar. Christmas. Leggings. In final stretch.”). Sometimes the very best gifts are the ones we give ourselves (“Degree for Christmas! NEVER give up.”). However you celebrate this holiday season, may you find joy in giving, receiving, and achieving. —Shauna Greene
Most Sincere: “Gifts: more about heart than sparkle.” —lillybrook
Greatest Seasonal Challenges: “Dollar. Christmas. Leggings. In final stretch.” —Contemplative
Most Benevolent: “More gift wrapper than gift ripper.” —JAD
Best-and-Least Prepared: “All presents wrapped. Still no tree.” —ChewyD2
Best Narrative Arc: “Trimming money tree of debt-free cheer.” —PoeticPisces
Greatest reward: “Degree for Christmas! NEVER give up.” —ton
Plus! What’s on your wish list? Tell us your “Six-Word Wishes for the Holiday Season.” This SixContest ends Friday, 12/29 at 3pm ET!
Like seeds planted on the page, each Six-Word start to your novel opened itself up to a larger story. With nearly 500 memoirs shared in SixContest #41 , there’s no doubt our Sixers have countless books in the making. Although each one was tantalizing to the literary taste buds—our top list, as always, is just Six:
6. “She never traveled without her regrets.” —favepeep
5. “Being a magician made life difficult.” —rsqdogsmom
4. “We met under General MacArthur’s hat.” —steelponypoet
3. “Telling the truth wasn’t an option. —Neesha101
2. “Everything was pristine. Except the smell. —ardentwanderer
And the top entry from SixContest #41 is…
1. “They buried the baby on Sunday.” by SouthPorch*
Congrats to SouthPorch and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our SixContests, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!
Ed. Note: here’s the gripping backstory from our winning entry. “My grandmother (Meme) kept a diary every year of her marriage and my mother inherited them. Although I haven’t had the chance to read through them yet, (my mother gets to read them first) Mom shares tidbits of interest when she comes across them. We always knew Meme and Granddad’s second child died during a traumatic birth. The baby was too large and was born in the little farmhouse they were renting from the man Granddad farmed for. A doctor was present but could do nothing but help her deliver the baby who suffocated in the process. The experience left my grandmother unable to have more children of her own. The diary entry for the day after the birth tells how Granddad and a few others buried the baby in the nearby prairie cemetery. Meme was unable to attend, and Granddad never spoke of the baby again. I have always believed the tough, rather coarse, unforgiving and surprisingly giving individual Meme was would make a great character for a novel set in the 1930s Midwest.”
The sun guides our days and influences our lives. As daylight hours wane and winter sets in, this week’s Sixes showcase our intrigue with the sun. It can be a figurative beacon (“You are somebody’s sunshine; burn bright.”), a literal guide (“Following the sunset along Route 66.”) or a visual reward (“Sundogs, colored ribbons in the sky.”). With its constant return, the sun energizes both our world and our words. —Shauna Greene
Best observation: “Sundogs, colored ribbons in the sky.” –canadafreeze
Most encouraging: “You are somebody’s sunshine. Burn bright.” –kmagnis
Hardest-hitting: “The sun doesn’t come up sometimes.” –saberg
Most poetic: “Sunlight’s warmth caresses my crouched back.” –gwen91014
Best narrative arc: “He’s not interested; sun’s kept rising.” –TaliaKE
Best itinerary: “Following the sunset along Route 66.” –CindyT
Plus! Last chance to enter SixContest #41! We don’t need the whole story…just the “First Six Words of Your Novel.” Contest ends Friday, December 12, 3pm ET.
In honor of our 8th anniversary, Team Six Words is launching a new Instagram account. We want to see YOUR best Six-Word Selfies! Here’s how to participate:
1) Open Instagram (or download the app & sign-up, it’s easy!)
2) Follow @SixWordSelfie
3) Take one of your own original Six-Word Memoirs—then write it on a piece of paper, wear it on a t-shirt, or find another fun, personalized way to turn your Six Words into a #SixWordSelfie
4) Once you’re happy with your #SixWordSelfie, post it to Instagram—remember to tag us (@SixWordSelfie) and include the hashtag #SixWordSelfie in the caption
We’ll repost our favorites to our @SixWordSelfie Instagram profile, and your Six-Word Selfie could be featured on our Twitter and Facebook page or in a future Six Words Weekly newsletter!
When it comes to writing, it can be difficult drawing the line between the work and the writer. And as every writer knows, your work is never done after the first draft. This week we saw that Sixers are skillful editors, be it in their work or in their lives (“Living is about rewriting, revising adventures.”). Whatever fuels your need to edit, these Sixes show the fiery spirit that keeps us willing to revise as needed.
Most Progressive: “Only looking foward, done looking back.” –laschaefer79
Best Substitution: “Move over Worry, you’re being replaced!” –Solstice22
Most Gumption: “Written off. Writing myself back in.” –JohnBigJohn
Best Revision: “Editing my inner circle. Deleting negativity.” –Susan_Breeden
Closest connection to page: “Living is about rewriting, revising adventures.” Nol_Martin-tungpala
Best advice: “Time deletes but writing saves memories.” –BanjoDan
Plus! Every story has a beginning, what’s yours? Share your intro in our current SixContest: “First Six Words of your novel” by Friday, 12/12 by 3pm ET!
I love wordplay and especially enjoy the give and take of SMITH. I usually visit several times a day via the Six Words app. I read through new postings, comment or tag favorites and I always check on ADHDean’s “Random Word of the Day.”
Name: Sandra Raub
Place: Northeastern Pennsylvania
SMITH Member since: February 2012
Sandi Raub is playful in life as well as in her Sixes. Known as accidentaltourist, Sandi’s 2,000+ memoirs are filled with mischievously delightful images and backstories (“Red shoes and fishnets. Dancing’s mandatory.”). Some of Sandi’s most compelling stories are about loss, including recent tributes about her father (“Broken heart, badly set, healed crooked.”). No matter the subject, her poetic nature always shines through (“Scribbling poetry in sudoku book margins.”). Our congratulations to Sandi Raub as our Memoirist of the Month for December—we’re curious to see which six words she’ll put on her quality T-shirt, care of our friends at Spreadshirt. Learn more about the woman behind the memoirs as Sandi answers our six questions:
With our eighth birthday and Thanksgiving on our minds, in SixContest #40 we asked you to tell us what you’re grateful for in just Six Words. Your stories celebrated the things that truly matter—loved ones—and the triumphs we must cherish, even through hardships. We’re thankful for your hundreds of submissions! Here’s our Top Six:
6. “Thankful my infant daughter survived cancer!” —JoanTerra
5. “Five generations in one house, outstanding.” —fun-nuggets
4. “We all lived through son’s teens.” —UUBikerChick
3. “Fortunately richer in love than money.” —PoeticPisces
2. “Mastectomy and divorce. I’m thankfully de-boobed.” —enginethatcould
And the top entry for this contest:
1. “Autism will never touch his heart.” —JohnBigJohn
Although this contest is over, don’t let that stop you from sharing your Six-Word Memoirs of gratitude around your Thanksgiving table—it’s a great way to connect! Congrats to JohnBigJohn, and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our SixContests, on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!
Eight years ago, just before Thanksgiving 2006, my then-SMITH Mag crew, Tim Barkow, Rachel Fershleiser and I challenged this community to describe their life in exactly six words. Giving Ernest Hemingway’s legendary six-word novel (‘For sale: Baby shoes, never used”] a personal twist, we called this new section of SMITH “Six-Word Memoirs.” We teamed up with a newish site that had an equal fondness for the short form called Twitter. And we had no idea what was coming next.
I remember telling my family about it. Everyone at the table, from ages 6 to 80, immediately took to the form; Sixes were flying across the table (my 11-year old nephew: “I have one for Pop-Pop: ‘Memory loss. What was I saying?’”). And the Sixes have been flying ever since.
Some eight years later, more then a million Six-Worders have been shared on Six-Word Memoirs from SMITH Magazine and the concept just keeps growing in ways I could never have imagined. This past year we released a Six-Word App, announced the Six-Word Advice book, started a new live events series at the 92Y, published a workbook and launched a new site for teachers/classrooms (more on that below), partnered with Urbanful for a Six in the City project (beginning with DC), and brought Six Words to a TEDx event inside a men’s prison.
You don’t need to be a Game of Thrones fan to know: Winter Is Coming. This week, Sixers across the country bonded over the big chill. Most lamented the cold front (“Acclimatization unlikely. Extreme cold warrants hibernation.”) and it’s early-to-the-party arrival (“And thus it begins. So-called ‘Wonderland.’”). And one Sixer held onto the light at the end of the (freezing) tunnel: provisions and simple comforts will get us through this arctic season (“Today I’m thankful for over-the-knee socks.”). —Caroline Goldstein
Most digitally-challenged: “Cold fingers are worse than autocorrect!” —Raven_OKeefe
Most grateful: “Today I’m thankful for over-the-knee socks.” —favepeep
Best tongue-in-cheek: “And thus it begins. So-called ‘Wonderland.’” –enginethatcould
Least acclimated: “Words struggle to exit frigid fingertips.” —Ellis_Reyes
Best narrative arc: “Acclimatization unlikely. Extreme cold warrants hibernation.” —CanadaGoose
Most cheerful: “Silly grin frozen on my face.” —Jugggler
Plus! Final days to share your gratitude in just Six Words! Share your entries for our SixContest #40: “What you are thankful for in Six” by Wednesday, 11/26 by 3pm ET!
When Catherine Dison came across Six-Word Memoirs, she knew it was something she had to introduce to her ninth graders at The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio. “I loved the combination of words and image, and of course the challenge of packing as much as possible into six words,” says Dison, an English teacher for the past 27 years.
The Six-Word template is not only a useful method of breaking the ice, but it also teaches English students the beauty of simplicity, and the power of clear diction. “Creating a Six-Word Memoir requires students to think carefully about the words they choose and the message they convey,” Dison says. “I do not have to tell them not to use unnecessary words, because they are already discovering which words they need.”
The process of creating a Six-Word Memoir can be an alternately satisfying and frustrating process, and Dison’s students experienced the gamut of these emotions. Some students felt inspired to “take a bold risk and put something very personal in their memoir,” knowing full well that their final Sixes would be on display in the school library (albeit anonymously)—other students spent much of their time “in the brainstorming stage,” stumped by the initial challenge of what aspect of themselves to include in their memoirs.
Dison’s assignment was simply for her students to write a Six-Word Memoir, but some students were so energized by the exercise that “they returned the next day with beautiful pictures that they had drawn, complete with their final six words.” These insightful illustrated Sixes, some of which are included below, provided the students and teachers of The Wellington School with a source of daily inspiration. As the students walked through the gallery of Sixes in the learning center, they “enjoyed looking through all of them and trying to guess the authors.” Dison, too, was struck by “how fitting so many of them were to the student—once I had connected each student with his or memoir, they were linked pretty clearly in my mind. I could walk through the learning center, pick out any memoir on the wall, and immediately call to mind its author.”
Just one look at this collection of illustrated Sixes proves that Six Words can be both inspiring and motivational.
Teachers! Since we first launched the Six-Word Memoir project, educators across the spectrum have found Six Words to be a terrific classroom assignment and catalyst for self-expression. At our Six in Schools section we celebrate students’ work from classrooms around the world. We’ve just released the Six Words for Schools workbook, the first in our suite of new school-based teaching tools, and launched our Six Schools website, a place solely for teachers to share their classrooms’ work with other educators globally. Check it out! Let us know what your classroom is up to and we might feature your students’ work on our blog.