Author Archive

“We are presently in a pickle.” And other big winners.

Monday, February 7th, 2011

The votes are counted, and the results are in: Six-Word Memoirists write more succinct states of the union than that dude in office. In partnership with THIRTEEN, Sesame Street provider of my youth and all-around top-notch public broadcasting station, we asked you to suggest YOUR state of the union using only the sacred six. Here are the winners:

* More civility. Less violence. Greater hope. - Robin Cutler
* We are presently in a pickle. – Barbara S.
* E PLURIBUS UNUM. Says it all. – Debbie Lackowitz
* I still don’t have health insurance. – Shirelle White
* Hope is easy, change is harder. – Peter Friedmann
* We need to lower our voices – George Conduso

Hungry for more faves? Head over to WNYC and relive fond(?) memories of 2010 with our top picks for six-word summations of the year:

*Went from self employed to unemployed. - Sandi Hemmerlein
*Lost 50 pounds. Found myself underneath. - Sandi Hemmerlein
*Got masters. Moved home. Permanent intern. - Dana
*Salinger waked. Haiti quaked. Oil caked. - Coleen Goodson
*Bedbugs, earthquakes, overeating, Snooki eclipsed Wikileaking. - Janet
*Green Day on Broadway? Oy vey! - Leigh Giza
*I could not stop checking Facebook! - Janet Villas
*Kanye Tweeted all the important stuff. - Galia Abramson

Jealous? You too can feel the glory of a selected six-worder! Just tell your love or heartbreak story here, and you could be a love song or share your sorrows on stage!

The Internet is Really, Really Great (for writing community)

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

I don’t get to blog on here as often as I’d like to, and I certainly never find the time to blog thatliars_diary.jpg I’m going to blog. Why would I, anyway?

Well, because if someone asks me to participate in something that combines books, internet community, and helping awesome people who could use a little help right now, I’m gonna say “Golly gee, those are three of my favorite things! Sign me up!” So:

I’m blogging to say I’m going to blog on January 29th. About debut novelist Patry Francis and her book The Liar’s Diary. And I’m telling you now, because I hope you will too.

I don’t know Patry Francis, but everyone who does confirms her wisdom, talent, generosity, and spirit. Me, I just like the “wild stories, unpredictable outbursts, and polite bookish commentary” she offers on her blog. Not to mention the name Patry.

A waitress and mother of four, she sold her first novel shortly before being diagnosed with cancer. When the book comes out in paperback on 1/29, her friends and colleagues in the writing and blogging world will be doing the promoting for her, so Patry can focus on important things like getting better. Please join the hundreds of people coming together to flog this flogworthy book. In the words of Susan Henderson, one of the true heroes of online literary camaraderie, it’s a chance to show “support for Patry, for cancer survivors, for writers helping writers, and for the strength and spirit of the blogging community.” Tell her you’re on board here.

Internet Animals Revolt! (LOLthat.)

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

An old friend of mine took a break from marching the picket lines to send this email:

“So, you’re probably all aware of the writers strike that’s going on.
But did you know that, in solidarity with the writers, all the
adorable animals on the internet are going on strike, too? Neither
did I, until another Colbert Report writer and I made this video:

Anyway, see if you can spot BOTH celebrities making cameos. Oh, and feel free to start up a wildly popular blog for the sole purpose of posting a link to this video.”

Way ahead of you, Frank.

UPDATE: Lest you doubt the abundant creativity (or free time) of the internet-adoring masses, requests for animalian solidarity have already been met by dogs, cats, and some…more exotic pets.

Thanksgiving is over. It is Monday. I am tired. I am hungry. I like to read. I like to write.

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Most Monday mornings, it’s all I can do to wrap my mind around six words. (Lucky thing, then,six.jpg that six words can say so much.) But this morning, fresh off a holiday weekend, and fortified with family, friends, and tryptophan, I’m feeling a little more ambitious.

Enter this lovely, lit-y, little blog, where I can indulge in all the wonderful stories that can be told in an expansive six sentences. Don’t miss the contributor bios, which are just as varied and interesting, describing community college kids, lead singers, biology profs, parents, and Pushcart winners.

As thousands of you are finishing novels, I’m assigning myself a slightly smaller challenge—six sentences by December. Who’s with me?

To Do

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Well, it’s Monday again. Here are some things on my week’s To Do List: 1) Blog on SMITH (check). 2) Turn in three articles by Wednesday. 3)Have friends over for Project Runway. Usually my list stays privately scrawled in my notebook, but when I post it online instead, it tells a little story about my life. Already we’ve learned that I’m a writer, a procrastinator, and a geek. Riveting stuff, eh?

Sasha “Quirkyalone” Cagen has gathered hundreds of lists far more fascinating than mine into a fun little book that tells personal stories in bite-size bits of information. What could be SMITHier?

Here’s a video about her process:

And here are some things to add to your to-do list, if you happen to be both a New Yorker and a memoir fiend like me:

1) The Best Memoirists Pageant Ever will take place at The Bowery Poetry Club, NYC on Saturday, November 24th, starting at 3:00 PM. Come on out and hear true stories by writers with recently completed memoirs or memoirs-in-progress including Memoirville’s own fabulous Kim Brittingham.

2) What’s True, What’s Not? Redefining the Memoir, A Panel Discussion Sponsored by Women’s National Book Association, NYC Chapter on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 from 6-8pm at the Center for Independent Publishing; 20 West 44th Street.

Social Conscience and Shameless Self-Promotion

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Last week, I went to a book party forgrip.jpg Frances Moore Lappé, inspirational author and activist, and inspirational mother of Anna Lappé and Anthony Lappé. In addition to writing about the place of the individual in politics and society, she published Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity, and Courage in a World Gone Mad in a totally individual way. Eschewing traditional publishers, she decided to “walk the walk” and form Small Planet Media to retain full control over the creative aspects and production values of the book. She found a union printer willing to print with soy ink on recycled paper and adopted a Creative Commons copyright to help encourage the dissemination of the book’s message. Buy a copy here, or check out a short webumentary first. I’m just sorry your screening won’t come with awesome vegan hors d’oeuvres.

banr.jpgIn other book news, Not Quite What I Was Planning is coming together quickly. We’ve gotten some early press, and some of the book’s best six-word memoirs are taking a warm-up run in the Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007, available now.

Goodbye Cruel World

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Is the web the new zine? And are literary magazines dead? A harsh but well-written blog polemic claims the answers are yes and yes. I’m curious to hear what our readers think, but for now I’m feeling my “campaign to save book reviewing” feeling—can’t we all just get along??

UPDATE: The rather terrific nonfiction lit mag The Crier is on financially necessitated hiatus. Hmm.

We have seen the weirdos, and they R us

Friday, September 28th, 2007

cops.JPGApparently, even beautiful mom-of-the-year (and closet former popular girl) Rebecca Woolf has an inner oddball. She also has a crazy-talented inner photographer and a penchant for San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair. Check out her rumination on lost souls here, along with stunning pictures of trannies and leathermen. Me, I prefer to fly my freak flag like a five-year-old. T minus 33 days…

Lost and Found: The Libertines of Folsom Street

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

by Rebecca Woolf

Go to the photos

I have always been fascinated by outsiders, feeling quietly like one myself, hiding behind high fashion and well-manicured hair. Laughing out loud with friends, sometimes unaware of what we’re laughing about. What’s so funny?

I grew up in the suburbs where we all dressed like twins and drove matching cars with the same Fly Girls stickers on our bumpers. We lived in homes with the same floor plan and pools in the backyard and wore our hair identically: long and blond.

A group of kids at my high school called themselves “thespians,” but we referred to them as “Goths.” They were involved in theater and wore more makeup than allowed on the stage. Dressed in black, they looked like ghosts in trench coats. They thought of themselves as non-conformists but in reality they all looked the same: same blue and black hair, same Nine Inch Nails stickers on their car windows, same combat boots.

We weren’t that different from each other. We just hid behind different costumes.

Several years ago, I took a trip with some friends to the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, an annual gathering notorious for its exhibitionists: a parade of freaks and outsiders and misfits and the people who enjoy watching them expose themselves.

I was intrigued to learn that many of the Folsom libertines lead normal lives on the weekdays but enjoyed Folsom for its openness and community of similarly outfitted peers. Just like nudists might go to a nudist colony or Emo kids to a Morrissey convention, every year Folsom Street Fair opens its gum-stained arms to thousands of social pirates and their booty. One such married couple, donning head to toe leather, admitted they were a doctor and lawyer by day. They agreed to let me take their photo in exchange for a couple of cigarettes and told me they made the trek every year to hold hands, half naked, and watch other couples do the same.

“These are our people,” they said, puffing on my Parliaments.

It is a strange conundrum to go on a portrait safari in quest of misfits and outcasts in a place where they all look alike, fitted in disguises, faces covered, cocks on display. Or breasts. Their eyes hidden behind glasses and masks.

What I found more interesting than the groups of men and women who came to find camaraderie, were the people I found alone. The man dressed up like a nurse with a Barbie backpack and a leopard print suitcase, trying to find his way home. The boy who looked like an angel, crouching amidst the rush of the crowd, a human sundial—his shadow growing across the pavement as the sun moved across the sky. A man in the executioner’s mask, holding his own camera as he offered me his flaccid penis like some kind of sacrifice. And the boy with the spiky Mohawk who stopped to light a cigarette under the “No Stopping” sign.

“Take my picture,” moaned a transvestite in high-heeled shoes, her blond hair whipping about her face in the wind. She posed awkwardly like a queen on The Island of Misfit Toys. “Show the world how beautiful I am.”

I took her picture and she thanked me, kindly asking if I could mail her a copy of the photo. I agreed and took down her address. But after getting my film back and finding her frowning face amidst the dozens of Folsom characters on my proof sheets, I knew I wouldn’t be sending her the print. I was afraid she would see her sadness, that maybe without photographic proof she could maintain her place as queen of the costumed.

What is an outcast and when does one stop being one? Who are the lost boys and girls and what does it take to find them? A couple of cigarettes? A friend? A camera? A mob of people who dress the same? Twins and triplets in matching leather with the same cock rings and sexual deviancy?

And suddenly, the normal girl is the one on the outside, appearing lost amidst the found.

Maybe I should have sent the print to the transvestite in the black dress. Or maybe I saw something in her that I was able to identify in myself. Something private and freakish. Something that reminded me of my own two faces and an underbelly I was afraid to expose.

I do believe that there is a place for everyone in the parade: The performers and the clowns and the marching band and the crowd that loves to watch, searching for answers to questions we are still trying to find the guts to ask ourselves. Trying to find a way to tell our personal stories with the faces of strangers, or better understand our fetishes and oddities, all the while hiding behind cameras or pristine suburban lawns.

There is a story in every face and body piercing and stroke of makeup. There is joy and sadness in the collective lost and found, in the liberated smiles of people finding one another and the frowns of those who arrive at a party, only to feel even more isolated than before. And then there are the libertines, who, when gathered up in a large group, become ordinary. The same.

And maybe that’s the point. Maybe we’re all wandering around trying to find a place to belong, digging through the lost and found bins in search of missing pieces, marching to the beat of someone else’s drum if we haven’t the rhythm to pound our own set of bongos, finding people we can laugh with for all the right reasons—liberating our inner-freak while at the same time, trying to fit in.

Rebecca Woolf is the storied Girl’s Gone Child blogger and author of the forthcoming memoir, Rockabye.

Click on photos to enlarge; mouseover for previous and next.

What Makes A Good Wednesday Night

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

6_word.rev2.jpgWhen you stop in at your favorite bookstore, and the kind and adorable boys who work there let you sneak behind the counter and look up your forthcoming book. And there it is, in their special bookstore computer, and it’s real, and they’ve ordered twelve copies.

SMITH Magazine

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