More serendipity: Pencil shavings and 6 word stories

Pencil shavings

At work recently I was sharpening pencils for one of my after-school maths clubs. Two pencils produced the most incredibly long shavings, that moulded into shapes as they came off the sharpener.

I cannot tell you how pleased I was that I had my camera with me that day. I spent a happy half an hour taking photos of them all. Another example of serendipity at play in my creative process.

When I loaded them onto my computer I discovered that conceptually, quite a few made me think of things other than pencil shavings. Since then I have posted them on my 365 photo project and have been working on ways to describe them.

Six-word stories

In this post, I will be showcasing some of my favourites describing the way I see them using my own six-word story. The six-word stories are inspired by Hemingway’s famous six-word tale, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn”. I’ve found two sites on the web that allow you to post your six-word stories. I have a profile on Six Word Memoirs and there is another site simply called Six Word Stories.

Why do I seem to be obsessed with six-word stories?

  • I love the challenge of telling a story in just 6 words. It’s like telling your life story in 5 sentences. You become more careful about the words you choose, and what you see as important.
  • It makes me ‘use my words’, something I have told my son throughout his childhood. I know that I get lazy and often rely on the same old words time and again. When I’m creating a story in 6 words though, I start to think creatively and dig deeper for words that are more descriptive and expressive and maybe have some alliteration (the repetition of the same sound or letter at the beginning of each or most of the words in a sentence).
  • I’ve been thinking that perhaps another reason I’m attracted to them is that they are such a contrast to academic writing which I labour with as part of my job: writing journal articles and conference papers, supervising post-graduate students who are studying for their Masters and Doctorates. Academic writing can be cumbersome and verbose. Six-word stories are not!

In writing a six-word story, I find it easier to start with a theme or an image. Having said that, both my son and I have used them to share our lives when we are apart. For example, whilst my son was away over the December break, we both wrote a six-word story about our day. His were creative and he illustrated them as well. We shared them when we next saw each other.

Here are the six-word stories I did for the pencil shavings

Stories from top left to bottom right

  • “Flitting and fluttering around a wire”
  • “Frilled lizard, curled up in sleep”
  • “Tiny-headed dinosaur creeps up on caterpillar”
  • “Flamenco dancer’s swirly, twirly, ruffled dress”
  • “Flying dragon, ready for take off”

What do the images make you think of? I’d love to hear your descriptions – in six words if you want!

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