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October 01, 2009

Not Quite What I Was Planning

As a writing teacher, I see that my students groan when they hear the usual required length of the standard essay.

What they don't realize is that the shorter the essay is, the tougher it is to write.

Try writing a full story - or your own memoir - in six words. It can be done....

...but it requires a lot of thought, and yes, concentration.

It all started when SMITH Magazine used Ernest Hemingway's pithy six-word short (obviously) story ("For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.") as a rallying cry for people to submit six-word memoirs of their lives and, from those, came the New York Times bestseller Not Quite What I Was Planning.

For their second compilation book, they've collected stories of love and heartbreak, told six words at a time. From the modern "If I get Chlamydia, blame MySpace," the painful "Inevitably, his obituary didn't mention me," and the romantic "At twelve found soul mate, still together," these brief flashes of other people's relationships, good or bad, may raise more questions than answers. But, as with Hemingway's, that's the point.

To see a video of romantic six-word memoirs, check out .

There is also a six-word book from (and for teen-agers) titled I Can't Keep My Own Secrets. To see a related video, look here - .

I use these as a spur to expression - of all sizes and lengths.

SMITH magazine is always collecting six-word stories around a variety of themes. You can submit them at .

I have submitted several. See if you can find them!

There are few experiences more satisfying than fully expressing one's self, and sometimes the more refined and distilled versions say the most about us.

It is good to remember that we are all always learning. And it is always more fun to learn together. We can learn as much from the past as from the present. And we can learn as much from using and stretching our imaginations as from studying our textbooks.

Let me know what it is about English that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf prefers international and independent films, foods he can't pronounce, music no one else has heard of and riding his bicycle in foreign cities.

Posted by mmorf at October 1, 2009 10:20 AM

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Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

Posted by: Jon T Washington at June 29, 2010 06:37 PM

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