Darien Gee speaks to Waimea Middle School eighth graders about memoir writing. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DARIEN GEE)
Waimea Middle School eighth graders post their six-word memoirs. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DARIEN GEE)
Quote of the Week: “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” E.L. Doctorow
Writing Exercise of the Week: Write about your life, who you are, or what you love in six words (no more, no less).
Waimea Middle School eighth graders, I’m talking to you.
That’s right, I’m calling you out.
Last month you were writing memoir. I came by, we talked story, words traveled from your mind to the paper. By writing it down, you have left your mark. Those six-word memoirs cannot be erased. I have pictures. There’s no undoing it now. You can’t pretend you didn’t write what you wrote, because not only did you write it, we all read it. It was up in those windows for the wide world to see. A few favorites:
“Born on Oahu, raised on Hawaii.” (Kai Ibana)
“Got hit, life bit, rage quit.” (Taran Takahashi)
“I live clean and surf mean.” (Kamuela Spencer-Herring)
“All my scars are my stories.” (Ryan Hooley)
“Roping wild cattle is a battle.” (Levi Higa)
“Determination is fuel for a journey.” (Christian Gomez)
“I am who I am today.” (Jennifer Kennedy)
“Lost in cyberspace, never to return.” (Austin Kahoopii)
Ah, such good times. So now what?
If you think I’ve forgotten about our short time together, you’re wrong. At the heart of every memoir is a memory, and I remember that Wednesday. So much that I will admit to being, well, impressed.
Oh yes, I did just say that out loud.
Writing is not easy for a lot of people, even for those of us who make a living by it. And if writing wasn’t hard enough on its own, there’s all that editing and revising. Polishing and shaping your memoir is how a good piece of writing is transformed into a great piece of writing, so when your teacher, Leesa Robertson (who took the initiative to bring me into your classroom, so give her serious props for that), guides you on how to revise your work, listen. To quote Honolulu playwright and author, Victoria Kneubuhl, “Learn to love rewriting, because rewriting is where you can turn lead into gold.”
And the writing that came out of those red ticket exercises? Seriously good. It’s amazing what you can do in seven minutes, isn’t it? It makes me wonder what kind of writer you’d be if you wrote for seven minutes on your own every day.
I mean, I know you’re busy. I saw you guys at recess. And those musubis? Yes, we need to concentrate on eating our musubis. And grilled cheese sandwiches. No time to write—we’re eating here! And you athletes—you can love your sports and write about it. Yup. It’s been done before, too.
So let’s just say that you decide to write seven minutes a day, just for yourself. Nobody has to see it. You won’t be graded. You have nothing to lose (other than seven minutes) and you may be surprised where it might lead you. Published teen authors are popping up everywhere these days—just think Christopher Paolini, Kat Zhang, Kody Keplinger, Hannah Moskowitz, Stefan Bachmann—so why not in Waimea?
Let me know if you decide to take up this challenge. I won’t embarrass you with a high-five in the parking lot. Snaps, maybe, but no high-fives.
Anyone can write a six-word memoir. To learn more, visit sixwordmemoirs.com. Darien Gee is a national bestselling author based in Waimea. She also writes under the name Mia King. Visit her at dariengee.com and miaking.com.