Thursday, October 19, 2017

six word stories

You may or may not be familiar with six word stories. The first of these is purported to be Hemingway's response to a challenge to write a story in six words.  His story was
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

There have been many adaptations of the form over the years. The popularity of six word stories comes and goes - memoir, humor, sad stories, mysteries, and so on. There have been other iterations such as six sentence stories, or other numbers of words or sentences; restrictions in form. There was a publication (physical and virtual) of six sentence stories; I wasn't able to find the original site in a recent search, so maybe it has gone away. I had two pieces published there, one in print and one online.

In my recent search for the six sentence story site and searching what else is available on six word stories, I discovered that there was a resurgence on Reddit around 2014 (r/sixwordstories) and people are still posting six word stories.

photo from Conversations in a Bar

The reason all of this came out is from a "spark" which happened when I went to pick up dinner. I ordered from a nearby Chinese food restaurant. They have a medium size dining room and a bar I've never been in, but the dining room is to the left of the cashier station as you come in the front door , fully visible, and the bar is to the right of the cashier station, partially visible.

The karaoke nights started as once a week there, many years ago. Back when people were still smoking in bars, because that was another thing about the bar. It is right there and you could smoke in the bar and the smoke wafted out to the small waiting area near the register and over into the non-smoking restaurant.

So, tonight, I went to pick up our food. I was waiting for the obviously regular customer in front of me to pay and leave and then it was my turn. I know he was a regular because of the banter between him and the employee, she knew his pattern and said so, and they poked each other and had a good conversation.

The restaurant side seemed to be completely empty now this guy was gone. There was another customer standing out front whose order was done just before mine; they handed her the food and she left before getting to me. Two other people came in after me and were reading through the menu on the waiting bench behind me.

So, I'm standing there paying in space between the empty restaurant and the darkened bar, I can see the colored lights on the unseen wall reflected in the mirror behind the shelves of liquor lined up in front of a mirrored wall. A midnight blue glow from the dim lighting. I sense cigarettes and cigars though I know no one is smoking inside, but the body memory of it or the actual smell of it from so many years still lingers.

And a man starts singing karaoke while I'm waiting. While the employee goes back to check on my order and I'm waiting to pay.

There is no clapping, no drunk voices joining him, no one cheering him on.

One man in the bar singing a song I don't recognize and he's not the worst karaoke singer I've ever heard and I have heard better. But the point was, I thought, this is a six word story right here.

And that's what led up to this.

And the fact that I'm ramping up my daily writing practice. I have a bit more to do to get the memoir to the point I want it to be before NaNoWriMo starts (which isn't "done" - but there is a goal and I'm almost there). So I decided to start where I am and it's here.

A six word story with some research and sharing resources about the origin of the form.

My six word story:
Singing karaoke to an empty bar.