Six-Word Stories

Ernest Hemingway was having lunch with several writers when he bet them he could write an entire novel in just six words. He friends scoffed. Hemingway asked each of them to put $10 in the pot. If he was right, he’d win the money. If he was wrong, he would match the pot. On a napkin, he scrawled the tale:

For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.

The debate rages on about whether Hemingway actually wrote this story or if it’s the stuff of legend, but when Hemingway gave his readers advice in his memoir A Moveable Feast, he said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

For me, Hemingway’s six word novel rang true. When I read it, my mind flashed to the blue cotton onesie I’d bought during my pregnancy. Years later, it’s still folded in my sock drawer, tags on.

After my miscarriage, I began journaling my fertility journey. The other night over dinner, Ron and I tried to write our own six-word story. Here’s our napkin:

Late start. Broken uterus. What next?

Well, it’s not quite Hemingway (we’re missing an ending for one thing), but it’s a good question. What is next? With a New Year underway, it feels like a good time to take a fresh look at some of our other options, like adoption and foster parenting.

If you wrote a six-word story about your fertility journey, what would it say?

About Jenny Rough

Jenny Rough is a lawyer-turned-writer. Visit her on the web at

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