The Asian Writer‘s Becoming a Writer Course, which I am currently undertaking, assigns its participants certain creative tasks each week, varying from reading excerpts from classics, writing at a particular hour to on-field exercises. This week, we were asked to write five six-word stories. One of the most popular six-word story, which leaves a haunting imprint on the reader, is as written by Ernest Hemingway – “For sale: Baby shoes, Never Worn.”
The legend goes that on a particular afternoon at The Algonquin, Hemingway accepted a bet and subsequently won, to tell a story, with only six words at his disposal. Today, it is argued that the story itself may not have been Hemingway’s original but perhaps an advertisement in a daily.
“In fact, it seems that versions of the six-word story appeared long before Hemingway even began to write, at least as early as 1906, when he was only 7, in a newspaper classified section called “Terse Tales of the Town,” which published an item that read, “For sale, baby carriage, never been used. Apply at this office.” Another, very similar, version appeared in 1910, then another, suggested as the title for a story about “a wife who has lost her baby,” in a 1917 essay by William R. Kane, who thought up “Little Shoes, Never Worn.””*
It may be that the legend of the six-word story by Hemingway was created, nonetheless the work that goes into writing one is as ambitious as that goes into writing a work of fiction. The following stories are my attempts to the creative exercise:
The decision was no longer necessary.
Wife, Mother, Grandmother
Female, Twenty Nine
Borderline Personality Disorder
She was known as the “gold-digger”.
Patient: Female, Fifty-five
Diagnosis: Cervical Cancer