Monday, January 25, 2016

The 6 Word Challenge by Robin Janney

One of the things I've been doing since I've been feeling better, is getting back into my social media accounts.  Everything from Twitter to Facebook to Google+ and one of the things I've really begun to enjoy are the 6 words challenges from a woman I follow on Twitter.

Kelsye is someone I've never met, and I honestly have no idea how I came to follow her.  We have 41 twitter contacts in common, more people I've never met but have stumbled upon throughout my social networking.  She's a writer and a publisher and one of the things she tweets are the challenges to write a story in #6words or less.

Not easy, but it's a challenge I enjoy.  I've read some of the other attempts on the posts, and know I'm not the only one!  I also know my attempts aren't always the best, but it's all about trying and stretching those creative muscles.

One of her challenges recently made me stop and reflect a little longer than usual.  Especially since I read it backwards!  I think it was supposed to be advice that my 12 year old self would give me today, instead I read it as advice I'd give her!

Either way, it's good advice.

At 12-ish, I had more thing on my mind than the future really.  I had a sick father.

He was in the hospital for abdominal surgery.  A year and a half before this, he had appendicitis and that surgery created too much scar tissue for his body to handle.  Of course, every surgery he endured had the same risks.  That particular summer, he underwent 3 surgery in the matter of a few weeks...and during one of those surgeries, he had a stroke and our lives changed forever.

Aside from the normal affects of a stroke, my father also ended up with a permanent tracheotomy.  The doctor was worried about him being on life support for longer than a week, so they cut into his trachea.  And back to that scar tissue issue...they were never able to take it back out.  The one time they tried, scar tissue started squeezing his trachea was like an hour glass shape.  He ended up being flown to Philadelphia for laser surgery, lost 2 inches of his trachea.  I remember his electronic speaker voice more than I do his natural voice.

What I would tell my 12 year old self is to keep plugging along.  Which she did, obviously - I mean, I'm still here.  I'd tell her to hang on to those dreams, they might not turn out the way she was expecting, but a girl has to have something to hope for - Don't lose that focus.  I'd tell her to keep writing and not worry so much about whether it's good or not.  Writing is something that gets better with practice, just like most of life.  I'd tell her not to worry about the boys, there's only one that matters and he won't come along until you're over 30.  As aggravating as Mr Janney can be sometimes (hello, he's a man!) he's worth the wait.

And what I would think she'd tell me, is: Don't be afraid to live, because life is short and uncertain.  You can be watching your favorite television show as a family one night, and the next morning...everything changes.  Take care of yourself, because you want to be able to enjoy living life.

All that from a 6 words challenge!  And they are challenging!  How do you tell a story in 6 words or less?  It's a test of our creativity.

Here are two that I found and responded to today.  I read 'lost boy' and immediately thought of Peter Pan and Neverland.  So my response was "Found Neverland, but not Peter Pan".

The other one is a very timely one considered much of the upper east coast is blanketed in snow.  Not me.  I'm just enough north and west of the storm that I never even saw a flurry.  As much as I hate driving in snow, I was really rather disappointed that we didn't get hit with the storm.  I mean, it was a weekend storm and I didn't really have to go anywhere.

But when I read the challenge, my memory went back to school days when snow days were much school and you got to play all day!  So my 6 word story was "I didn't do my homework" which I think I may have done a time or two in High School when we knew the night before that school was canceled.  Of course, the next night I always regretted it because I still had to do my homework!

I always wait until after I've written and tweeted my own short story to expand Kelsye's tweet to read other responses.  It's quite the treat to read what others have imagined, and by waiting, it's not influencing my own thought process.  If I don't see anything from her when I open Twitter, I'll even go directly to her profile and look for them.

Probably one of my biggest 'flaws' as a writer is being too verbose.  There is a time and a place for many words, and a time to be brief and concise.  The trick is learning when those times are.  And like I'd tell my 12 year old self, practice makes perfect.

So readers, how would you respond to these 6 word challenges?  What do you think your 12 year old self would advise you to do?   What story would you write about a lost boy or a snow day?  How about a lost boy on a snow day? "Took my sled too far." is my attempt for that last one.

Until next time, I'm back to working on book #3 and trying to decide whether I have too many female antagonists.  That worries me a little, but that's a post for another time!


  1. I loved reading this. Your 12-year-old self had very good insight. :-) Thanks so much for playing the writing game. It's thrilling for me as well to see all the vast different responses come through.

  2. Some of our best dreamworks happen at 12, to an audience of one fearing exposure by peer appraisals. Nature is finest, but adolescent excellence to a larger audience is a close second. This article is heartfelt; thank you for continuing to grow so an audience can applaud your efforts. Eliot said "great writer's steal", so in honouring Kelsye's wise thought provoking link for today's #sixwordstory "Hang on to your self Dreams"

    1. Hey, thanks for coming here and reading. I face two fears when I post: that ppl will read and judge harshly - or that no one will read it at all! Thank you for your kind words. I hope you come back again! :)