May 6th, 2013 by Shauna Greene
“In kindergarten, I used to fill the top edges of my drawings with random letters, pretending I was writing a great story. Later, I preferred writing letters as a means of correspondence to that of a simple phone call.”
Name: Kathi Wright
Place: Near Sequoia National Park, Calif.
SMITH member since: March, 2008
A fling that began five years ago continues today. Although she does not recall precisely how she stumbled upon SMITH, Kathi Wright was hooked from the moment she found us. Since joining SMITH in 2008, Kathi has been flirtatious with her submissions (nearly 300). This sporadic, yet consistent collection captures her gratitude for motherhood, humble introspection, and independent spirit. Read more »
April 8th, 2013 by Larry Smith
Being able to reduce what I thought was this enormous life event to a succinct six words made me feel powerful. That story changed my outlook from one of facing a problem of a lifetime to one of solving a simple word problem.
Name: Coleen Goodson
Place: Chicago area,
SMITH member since: May, 2010
Scrolling through the stories of Coleen Goodson, known to regulars of the site as ctgoods2, it’s easy to feel inspired by her true joy of the written word. Coleen has written nearly 2,500 stories on SMITH—from the intimately personal like “Mom disapproved until our 20th anniversary” (her first Six-Word Memoir); to the playfully self-effacing, “Raised by crazies. Keeping up tradition”; to indeed, a perfect sentiment for a community of writers: “Thinking in italics from now on.” A transplant to a small northern Illinois town that’s “a sneeze south of Wisconsin,” Coleen is a wife to one and mom to three who works as an executive administrative assistant by day while dedicating her nights to her family and her writing. Coleen reveals that she first heard about SMITH after receiving a particularly tough critique by a writing teacher: he told her she used too many words. “I was determined to do better on the assignment but really felt at a loss, because of course, I loved all of my own words,” she explains. “So, I Googled, ‘Write a memoir use fewer words.’ SMITH Magazine popped up and I have been a loyal fan/addict ever since!” Read more »
February 15th, 2013 by Larry Smith
“In my classroom, memoirs are a place for them to say in six words what some of them have never tried to articulate let alone creatively.”
Name: Lisa Bottone
Place: Warren, New Jersey
SMITH member since: May 29, 2008
Lisa Bottone, known to the SMITH community as sisterpoet, began her Six-Word Memoir writing with six words that live up to her screen name: “Love is a four letter word.” Lisa first heard about our lively, literary online world in an old-school way: at a book festival in Brooklyn back in 2008. Nearly five years and 2,398 memoirs later, sisterpoet is everything a writing community could ask for: a poetic, funny, and thoughtful writer, and a frequent commenter on the work of others, often offering more than just six words of praise and support.
Lisa is a lifelong writer with a passion for music—Morrissey, founder of the band The Smiths is quite appropriately her favorite—is also a teacher who has taken her love of the six-word form back into her own life offline, where she introduced Six-Word Memoirs in her seventh graders at Warren Middle School. In our “Six Questions For….” feature, Lisa tells about more about her and her life and work, in six words and many more. Read more »
January 7th, 2013 by Larry Smith
Regulars to SMITH Magazine have surely noticed, and often heard from, Laureatte Loy, that spirited community member who goes by L2L3. Since she joined the community in 2010 she’s been a force of nature—spurring discussions, writing memorable memoirs and penning the much-anticipated Christmas poem each year (not to mention sending over holiday fudge for the SMITH Mag elves). On a personal note, there’s no one quicker to point out an especially poignant memoir or backstory, or cheerlead the cause of someone who could use a little love from our community.
Laureatte first came to SMITH after reading about the site “in a much older person’s copy of AARP Magazine.” At the time, she was working the night shift at a hospital, where she had a lot of down time. “While my co-workers played online Mahjong,” she recalls, “I wrote memoirs and chatted with a companionable group of insomniacs and intercontinental types on SMITH.”
From the tiny, mountainous town in Tennessee which serves as her perch for an active travel, craft and writing life, the incomparable L2L3 answered six questions from SMITH Magazine.
Name: Laureatte Loy
Place: Northeast Tennessee
SMITH member since: February, 2010
When did you start writing, and what have been turning points in your creative life?
I’ve been an avid creative writer since grade school; it was a convenient, solitary activity and one that appealed to me as a young only child in rural Michigan. During high school I edited the school paper and co-edited our yearbook. Then came college and afterward, a job as a psychiatric nurse that required volumes of handwritten observational documentation. Except for occasional commercial ad/brochure writing for friends who owned businesses, writing was shelved for years. I did win an NBC writing contest that secured a free trip to Disney World and a spot on our team to represent western Michigan in the annual Goofy Games. I should add that after being selected as a finalist in the writing portion of the contest I also had to run through tires while carrying glasses of Kool-Aid and then face off in an orange juice squeezing contest. Years later, on SMITH, I thought, “Hmmm… Six words seems like a navigable number of words.” Read more »
December 31st, 2012 by Larry Smith
We have not one but two SMITH calendars that can adore your desk and wall in literary style in 2013. From SMITH Magazine and Sellers Publishing comes the Six-Word Memoir® daily calendar. Each day, you’ll get a surprising, inspiring, provocative, profound, serious, or sometimes just silly look into someone’s life, and then have a chance to write down your own Six-Word Memoir for the day. Find it on Amazon or, better yet, ask your local bookstore if they carry it.
And here’s a calendar that I wasn’t quite planning on but could not be more excited about: the first-ever “Very Six-y Ladies of SMITH Mag” calendar. Each month features a photograph of one of our amazing ladies —Believe, Canadafreeze, Sisterpoet, and more—as they offer us a glimpse of their lives. Like the best parts of SMITH, the Six-y Ladies calendar sprung from the community when Wench put out a call for calendar girls with this Six-Word Question. You can find it on Shutterfly*—it’s a truly beautiful thing from a truly beautiful community.
*SMITH Magazine makes no money from the Six-Y Ladies calendar; and not much from the memoir-a-day version.
December 2nd, 2012 by Larry Smith
“I had a college professor that I loved. I hung on her every word, and she told me that I used too many words.”
December’s Member of the Month, Elizabeth Kalman, aka Believe, is known as much for her words online as she is for her wears offline. Kalman, a piano teacher, wife, and mother of two budding wordsmiths from Virginia Beach, VA, is the creator of the “Believe Hats” that now adorn so many SMITH member heads (including editor Larry Smith’s, pictured here). She’s sewn some fifty hats so far, each with the member’s nickname embedded, and shipped them off to people she’s solely met in this community. “The hats have taken on a magical quality that the community is responsible for, not me,” she says. Maybe so, but seeing, as the saying goes, is believing—and Elizabeth Kalman gives this community much to Believe in. She recently took time out from her busy life and put her rarely idle hands on the keyboard once again to answer six questions from SMITH.
Name: Elizabeth Kalman
Town: Virginia Beach, VA
SMITH member since: January, 2011
How did you first hear about SMITH?
I came across the site when I was googling for ideas for New Year’s toasts. One of the firsts toasts that I came to was Contemplative’s, “To inspired beginnings and captivated endings” on the Six-Word Memoir project. I was instantly hooked. I have always loved the idea of keeping a journal, but never actually had the focus/consistency/patience to do so. Six Words filled that void for me. I find the boundary of using limited words inspires my creativity. Read more »
November 17th, 2012 by Vivian Chum
Nearly three years after joining SMITH Magazine as a contributing editor, I’m still so often touched by the way SMITH’s online community members—an international crew of opinionated and creative types from all walks of life—encourage and connect with one another through the SMITH site.
Take for example the community support that has coalesced around newly-minted SMITH member John Roedel (JohnBigJohn), whose contributions include candid stories and Six-Word Memoirs about raising his autistic son. In Roedel’s words, “Even though I come from the windy and groundhog world of Wyoming, I feel connected in a very unique way to these other contributors.”
It’s hard not to notice that something magical happens when we exchange our stories at SMITH. That’s why this holiday season SMITH is once again encouraging our members to celebrate StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening on November 23 by taking time to record interviews with loved ones and share them on StoryCorps’ “Wall of Listening.”
StoryCorps, best known for its chic MobileBooths and StoryBooths, launched National Day of Listening in 2008 to provide storytellers yet another way to record and share their interviews.
“People tell us all the time they would love to record their story, but the MobileBooth hasn’t come to their state, or they don’t live in a city where our StoryBooths are located,” says StoryCorps Associate Manager Krisi Packer. “The National Day of Listening’s DIY method gives everyone a chance to tell their story.”
So how do SMITH members get involved? It’s easy. You can record a StoryCorps interview from anywhere. You don’t even need fancy recording equipment to participate. The basic recording device on a computer or Smartphone will do. StoryCorp has developed a National Day of Listening Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide, a list of suggested questions, and a video that walks you through how to record and conduct your interview. When you share your story, write SMITH Magazine under the field “Company or Organization,” so we can feature your interview on SMITH. Read more »
October 24th, 2012 by Larry Smith
SMITH loves hitting the road for live storytelling events and talks. Here’s what’s cooking in the coming weeks.
Six Words on Political Life at the National Constitution Center
More than 25,000 Six-Word Stump Speeches have been shared in our interactive exhibition at Philadephia’s National Constitution Center. On Oct. 29 we’re having a special politically themed story show at the center where six storytellers will start with a stump speech and then tell a longer backstory. Check out the line-up—including local Philly treasures Pierre Robert and Jane Golden—and buy advance tix.
Six Words on Jewish Life:
Our new book, Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life, comes alive at a combination of story shows with local talent, and talks from editor Larry Smith. On Nov. 3, we’ll be at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles for an evening of Jewish-life themed stories from six storytellers. Find out more and get tickets at WBT’s site. And here are six words to sweeten the deal: Free blintzes served following the show.
On Nov. 11, we’re doing a Jewish story show as a part of Philadelphia’s First Person Arts Festival, including a can’t-miss story by author Piper Kerman called, “Bad News, But It’s Not Cancer,” about telling a certain editor of a storytelling community’s Jewish parents she is on her way to prison for a crime she committed a decade earlier. You don’t have to be Jewish to come or love these two shows! Get tickets now—these shows will sell out.
Plus: SMITH’s Larry Smith tells the story of the Six-Word Memoir project and leads the audience into their own Six-Word Slam at book fairs in Cherry Hill, NJ; Houston and Virginia Beach.
Check out our new SMITH Live section for regular updates on future events. Follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook page and you won’t miss a thing.
October 16th, 2012 by Larry Smith
Reading the memoirs of October’s Member of the Month, Steve Leasure (aka Steve Anthony), is to offer a case study in one man’s strong sense of identity as a father, and the joy and clarity that comes with it. In his work life, Leasure has had a career that’s been both right-brained and left-brained, having worked as a machinist, toolmaker, journalist, CAD designer, and now a Quality Manager of a turbine blade manufacturer near Atlanta, Georgia. “But,” says Leasure, “I will always be the son of a machinist.”
Leasure first learned of the Six-Word Memoir project in AARP The Magazine in 2010 and says he was “blown away how people could sum up their relationships, loves and lives in just six words.” Now, 4211 Six-Word Memoirs later (and counting), he’s what I call one of the “powerusers”—the site’s most passionate and frequent posters— and a group not shy about debating the ways and means of SMITH Magazine. He’s a contributor to other SMITH story projects as well. Leasure’s piece, “Mercy,” about a car accident that almost killed him, is found The Moment: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories from 125 Writers and Artists Famous & Obscure (and you can also read a version that appeared on SMITH).
Recently, Leasure, who lives with his wife, Holly, and son, Adam, recently took time to answer six questions from SMITH. We’re pleased to give him the gift that keeps giving and starts many (more) conversations: the Six-Word Memoir T-shirt of his choice from Spreadshirt.
Read more »
September 13th, 2012 by Vivian Chum
September’s Member of the Month Melesha Johnny (mzejay) wasn’t expecting to become a part of a rich storytelling community when she purchased a case of Honest Tea at her local warehouse store in Northern California. She was just thirsty. But from the moment she opened a bottle of tea and discovered a Six-Word Memoir on the inside of the bottle cap, she was hooked.
“Who knew that turning over an Honest Tea cap would lead to a new hobby?” says Johnny. “I logged on to SMITH and started reading memoirs. I remember being impressed with the idea of concise storytelling.” Johnny wrote her first Six-Word Memoir at her kitchen table that very afternoon. Fellow SMITH member Banjodan responded with a comment. “I was just tickled,” says Johnny.
Not long after joining SMITH, Johnny entered SMITH and Mercer consulting’s Six-Words about Work contest. Her submission to the “lessons learned” category, “Press every button till printer works,” was one of the winners selected to win an iPad2. “Now,” Johnny says, “I always check bottle caps for treasures.”
Recently, Johnny took time out of her busy life as a librarian to answer six questions from SMITH.
Read more »