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6 Word Memoirs

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Jenna Wittwer

on 20 August 2014

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Transcript of 6 Word Memoirs

What's your story?
Your challenge:
Try to capture who you are in
6 words
. Remember to choose the

words to communicate your message. Your memoir can be funny or serious as long as it expresses who you are.


It MUST be school appropriate! If you don't know if yours is appropriate, don't use it.
It must be only 6 words.
You must use proper writing conventions.
You will be graded based on your originality and creativity.
You must include visual elements on your page that are consistent with your message (If your message is comical, do not use dark dreary colors and draw storm clouds).
In English my names means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, song like sobbing.

It was my great-grandmother’s name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse – which is supposed to be bad luck if you’re born female-but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexican, don’t like their women strong.

My great-grandmother. I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier.

That’s the way he did it.

Two Possible Definitions
“A memoir is how one remembers
one’s own life, while an autobiography
is history, requiring research, dates,
facts double-checked.”

—from Palimpsest by Gore Vidal (Penguin, 1996).

“Unlike autobiography, which moves
in a dutiful line from birth to fame,
memoir narrows the lens, focusing on
a time in the writer’s life that was
unusually vivid, such as childhood or
adolescence, or that was framed by
war or travel or public service or some
other special circumstance.”

—p. 15 of Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir by William Zinsser (Mariner Books, 1998)
And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but don’t want to inherit her place by the window.

At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth. But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like silver, not quite as thick as sister’s name-Magdalena-which is uglier than mine. Magdalena who at least can come home and become Nenny. But I am always Esperanza.

I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something like Zeze the X will do.

Now it's your turn!
6 Word Memoirs
Adapted from www.readwritethink.org
What is a memoir?
“My Name” from The House On Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
“My Name” from The House On Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
Full transcript