Editors’ Blog

SMITH Live Story Shows—NYC, London, DC—Jan., Feb., March, April

January 9th, 2012 by Larry Smith

SMITH Magazine is meant to be a 360 storytelling experience, from our web site to our books to our live storytelling shows and slams. We’ve got a huge line-up of live events this winter and spring and hope you’ll join us for evenings of fun, surprising, inspirational storytelling. (The crowds are extremely smart and attractive, too.)

January 9, NYC: The Moment book reading at McNally Jackson Books, 7pm, 52 Prince St., with A.J. Jacobs, Alan Rabinowitz, Mira Ptacin, Matt Dojny, Karol Nielsen, Jerry Ma, Piper Kerman, Vivian Chum, and Gillian Laub.

January 26, Brooklyn: The Moment book reading at Greenlight Books, 686 Fulton St. Brooklyn 7:30pm, with after-party for SMITH Mag’s 6th anniversary. With Josh Axelrod, Summer Pierre, Daniel DiClerico, Alaa Majeed, Julie Metz, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, Piper Kerman, Vivian Chum, Jeff Chuch, Fiona Mazel, Colin Nissan, Emily Steinberg, Cheryl Della Pietra, and Gillian Laub.
Read more »

Happy National Smith Day. And Now We Are 6.

January 6th, 2012 by Larry Smith

Six years ago, on January 6, 2006, I launched SMITH Magazine. It was about time.

For three years prior, I wandered in the media desert, looking for funding or a fancy publishing partner. I got meetings because I had been working in magazines for a while and had a prototype created by legendary art director Robert Priest (whose SMITH logo still graces these pages today). I preached the gospel of what I called, “A new kind of magazine, a print/web hybrid that would be written by everyone and edited by professionals.” And then I was shown the door.

What to do? It was time to stop looking up and start looking around, as well as inward. My co-founder was my old college buddy, Tim Barkow, who frequently reminded me that we’d never create something new if we attempted to do so the old way, with the old rules. Inventive independent media makers like Dave Eggers, Shoshana Berger, Deanna Brown, and Lisa Haines all said the same thing: just do it, dude. And so we did. On January 6, 2006, National Smith Day (a day which existed already in honor of John Smith, one of the early Jamestown, Va., settlers, and/or 19th century mountaineer Jedediah Smith), we launched SMITH online.

I handled the content and editing. Tim programmed and designed the site from scratch with the help of Wordpress, the platform we still use. Our friend, Alex Hart, gave us free server space, because he’s the kind of guy who has server space. Lisa guided as we we started to turn a passion into a viable business proposition. Rachel Fershleiser later joined and became my incredible Six-Word Memoir co-editor. Jeff Newelt, aka JAHFurry, brought comics to SMITH, further expanding the ways we could tell stories here. Along the way, to crib from one six-worder I love, “Many hands have kept us afloat.” *

In previous posts I recount our origin and our mission, but the short story is that SMITH was inspired by my grandfather, a small-town pharmacist who knew everyone else’s story but was notably shy when discussing his own. Read more »

January’s Member of the Month: Lynn LeBlanc’s Three Generations of Sixers

January 2nd, 2012 by Vivian Chum

For Member of the Month Lynn LeBlanc, known as Loon,
Six-Word Memoirs are a family affair. Once LeBlanc got the Six-Word bug, he explains, “I began to compose thousands of Six-Word Memoirs and
pestering my close friends and relatives to read and evaluate them.” In the process of writing over 5,000 Six-Word Memoirs, he inspired his mother, aka NicknameBill, his daughter Julie Wakefield, aka FinchGirl, and even his eight-year-old granddaughter Madilynn Capri LeBlanc-Wakefield, aka Beauty12, to
join SMITH and contribute their own memoirs.

“All of them have been featured at one time or another,” says LeBlanc. This prolific sixer recently took a few minutes out of his day to answer six questions from SMITH Magazine. Read more »

Welcome to Six-Word Memoirs and SMITH Magazine

January 2nd, 2012 by Larry Smith


If you’ve found this welcome note or clicked on the link from your “verification email,” you’re probably new to our storytelling community. Whether in 6 or 600 words, that is our passion, our drive: storytelling. Our six-word tagline is “Everyone has a story—what’s yours?” Here’s part of our own story.

The most popular neighborhood in the SMITH community is Six-Word Memoirs. More than half a million Six-Word Memoirs have been written and shared by our members on Six-Word Memoirs and on our site for teen scribes, SMITH Teens. We’ve created and published seven books of Six-Word Memoirs (including a Japanese translation) and are always working on more. (For a history of the project, watch this video from the PopTech conference). Who knows? Your memoir might be included in our next book. And you’ll be in good company, too: some of our favorite storytellers such Stephen Colbert, Frank McCourt, Chelsea Handler, Dave Eggers, Malcolm Gladwell, Sarah Silverman, Mario Batali, among others, have penned Six-Word Memoirs, too.

At the heart of soul of Six Words, and the SMITH community overall, are the regular folks who read and write stories here every day. So what makes a great community? Great community members. Here are six secrets to having a great experience on SMITH. Read more »

Member of the Month: Amanda Bausch’s Memoirs & Meatballs

December 1st, 2011 by Vivian Chum

SMITH enthusiasts were sharing Six-Word Memoirs at Saucy Burt’s meatball sandwich cart in downtown Minneapolis on a chilly fall day when December’s Member of the Month Amanda Bausch, her husband Sherman, and her three-year-old son Elijah (pictured above) rolled up on their bikes to join in on the impromptu six-word slam and meatball chow-down.

With a half-eaten sandwich in one hand, Sherman Bausch counted six words on his fingers: “My beard likes the meatball sandwiches!” Elijah piped up with a ponderous six-word question: “Why is fire so hot, Dad?” And Amanda Bausch opined on life with her quirky family: “Better than I could have planned.”

“I’m pretty sure I was counting my words for the rest of the day,” says Bausch, who joined SMITH Magazine’s online community that evening.

Recently, between cycling, yoga, raising her son Elijah, and visits to Saucy Burt’s, Amanda Bausch took a few minutes to answer six questions from her home in Minneapolis. Read more »

October’s Member of the Month: Jace Daniel Albao, eBook Evangelist

October 5th, 2011 by Vivian Chum

“Nope, the name’s not short for Jason, and it’s not Jase with an s. It’s ace with a J,” explains October Member of the Month Jace Daniel Albao, whose father had a thing for cards. “He wanted to give his first born a name that rhymed with ace. I’ve done my best to substantiate his decision.”

This month SMITH readers learned how Albao’s father’s gambling habit determines more than just Albao’s name in his Moment “Pocket Cowboys,” which tells the story of his father’s card game on the night of Albao’s birth. “My old man had promised her he wouldn’t gamble again, but special occasions call for exceptions,” writes Albao. “After all, he was a new father, and it was a night to celebrate.” Read more »

September’s Member of the Month: Dan Campbell

September 13th, 2011 by Vivian Chum

Dan Campbell (Banjodan), Member of the Month for September, has emerged as one of SMITH’s funniest and most prolific Six-Word Memoirists —accruing a fan base among the other sixers along the way. Campbell has written more than one thousand Six-Word Memoirs, many about his marriage to his wife Zoila who shares Campbell’s zany view of life. Last month, “My sex tape’s on Comedy Central” was featured as the Six-Word Memoir of the Day, and still sits near the top of SMITH’s “most commented” charts. Campbell and his wife don’t actually have his sex tapes on Comedy Central, he explains. “The sex tape memoir was just to make fun of people who have become ‘celebrities’ because their sex tape ended up on the internet.”

“My favorite memoirs on SMITH are the ones about relationships,” says Campbell. “My wife has a great sense of humor.” That’s a good thing coming from a guy whose sixes include, “Discovered my inflatable girlfriend’s a guy,” “Immature wife drowned my rubber duckies,” “Wife’s back! She kissed dog first,” and “Marriage: My mancave has pink curtains.” At the same time, memoirs like, “The days fall like loose change,” “Sadly, some storms last a lifetime,” among many others, reveal the softer side of this banjo-loving man, many of which will end up in a book of Six-Word Memoirs he’s currently putting together.

Campbell recently took a few minutes to answer six questions from SMITH Magazine.

Where are you based and what do you do there?
I’m based in DC. I served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador from 1974 to 1977, and since then, I have worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development on environmental health issues in developing countries. Read more »

Welcome to SMITH—Here’s What’s Happening

September 5th, 2011 by Larry Smith

Welcome to SMITH. Our tagline is “Everyone has a story—what’s yours?” and we hope you’ll tell one or more of yours here. The “Six Words About Work” contest featured on “Talk of the Nation” is over, but we welcome anyone who has arrived here via NPR or elsewhere, and hope you’ll stay awhile.

Here are some of the things happening on SMITH. For updates on contests, books, and live events, sign up for our monthly newsletter in the top-right corner of this page and join our vibrant Facebook group. You can follow us on Twitter for one well-chosen Six-Word Memoir each day.

The most popular thing to do is read and write Six-Word Memoirs. More than half-a-million Six-Word Memoirs have been shared on SMITH and on our site for teen scribes, SMITHTeens. We’ve created five books of Six-Word Memoirs, including a Japanese translation, and are always working on more. We’re also thrilled to announce that this fall both the Six-Word-a-Day calendar and Six-Word Memoir game will be released. For more on the history of Six Words, and the wild ways the form is being used around the world, listen to Larry Smith’s talk at South by Southwest, “How To Create an Internet Phenomenon for Peanuts,” or watch his video at the 2010 PopTech conference.

You can read and writer longer stories in one of our many Story Projects. The Moment is a place for stories, told in words, photographs, and comics, about turning points, revelations, epiphanies, and other dramatic changes that had a profound impact on your life. Harper Perennial will release a book of more than 125 “Moments” in January 2012. Read more »

August’s Member of the Month: Kirk Citron on Stories that Matter

August 7th, 2011 by Vivian Chum

August’s Member of the Month, Kirk Citron, insists that “some stories are more important than others.” Not long ago, SMITH Magazine caught Citron’s TED 2010 talk about his work on The Long News, a blog featuring news stories that will still matter 50, 100, or even 10,000 years from now. “As you can imagine,” says Citron, “there aren’t many.” We got to wondering what Citron’s personal “long news” might be.

“I Almost Missed It,” Citron’s story for The Moment project and the same-titled book coming out in January 2012, is about Citron’s chance meeting with a cute redhead who eventually became his wife. “There’s nothing you can do to plan for the coincidences and contingencies that will come your way,” writes Citron. “And they’re likely to be more important than whatever else you think is important at the time.”

Recently Kirk Citron took a few minutes to answer Six Questions from SMITH Magazine. Read more »

July’s Member of the Month: Ashley Allen Writes, Rocks, Raises

July 5th, 2011 by Larry Smith

Ashley Allen, Member of the Month for July, is known as three-monkeys on SMITH, and has written more than 500 stories, in nearly every section of SMITH. One of her longer, most personal stories is found in The Moment project. “A Conversation with My Dad” is a tribute to the stalwart yet awkward support of her father in the days preceding her teenage abortion. “It was the first time I’d written about the experience since it happened twenty years ago,” says Allen. “When I wrote about it, it was a relief, and I was able to forgive myself a little for the choice I made.”

Allen, who contributes to SMITH from Leesburg, VA, keeps busy raising her three young sons. “I have my hands full,” she says. “I know this for a fact because I hear it all the time from strangers observing me at Target.” Yet she still makes time to pursue her two big dreams: write a book and become a rock star. Recently, rocker/writer Ashley Allen took a few minutes out of her day to answer six questions from SMITH Magazine contributing editor Vivian Chum.

How did you first come to start writing on SMITH Magazine?
I saw a link that one of my friends posted on Facebook to the Six-Word Memoir page. I joined, came up with my first memoir, hit “submit,” and by some act of God, I actually won “Memoir of the Day” the following day! Read more »

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