The Six-Word Memoir Blog

Six-Word Search: Secrets

July 10th, 2013 by Allison Keene


Having secrets is a part of being human. By keeping parts of our lives private, we give ourselves the chance to form an identity apart from the public sphere and, in turn, an independent sense of self. In sharing our secrets with others, we choose to share our most private selves; the telling and keeping of secrets a very intimate matter in any relationship.

In a world where social media is reinventing the style and speed with which secrets are spilled, and America’ most famous fugitive, Edward Snowden, is on the run for the secrets he shared, we thought it was time to gather a few of your most poignant Six-Word Memoirs on secrets.

Sometimes I keep secrets from myself.

- jl333

My novel is filled with secrets.

- ReannaKeller

Understanding patterns is secret to Life.

- ciofki

Soul of discretion. Keeper of secrets.

- ctgoods2

My inner NSA crushed my secrets.

- wescoll

My best secrets are Facebook statuses.

- JohnBigJohn

Secrets granted to those worth keeping.

- unknown116

Read more »

Six-Word Memoirs of the Week in Words and Images

July 7th, 2013 by Allison Keene

This week’s Six-Word Memoirs covered a variety of topics, including bucket list items, Independence Day, and political victories. To see all of this week’s illustrated memoirs, visit SMITH Magazine’s Facebook, Tumblr, or Pinterest.

Six-Word Search: America: The Good, the Bad, the Free

July 3rd, 2013 by Amy Lauren

Congratulations United States of America and Happy Birthday to you! America might be a baby compared to the rest of the world’s countries, but look how far we’ve come since the first and original Independence Day. Here we proudly share some of your Six-Word Memoirs to get you in the mood from people who are enamored with, confused by, or furious at our land of the free. Happy Fourth of July, Sixers!

Honor the flag. It represents much.

Overseas, I became a better American.


Republican. Democrat. How about just: American.

America and Chevy: peanut-butter and jelly.

Dear Uncle Sam, HELP! Yours, America.

Put out my American flag today.

“…what you can do for your country….”

America: imperfect, but still the best.

Feeling unpatriotic? Travel overseas. Act American.

The American Dream died with Gatsby.

Live for Moments, die for freedom.

Teetering on the path of freedom.

Life and freedom taken for granted.


Country music makes me feel patriotic.

Declaration signers get half off fireworks.

7/4: And boom go the fireworks.

Declaration of Independence: great break-up letter.

Independence. It’s not just a word.

My country was often on life support.

Independence Day! Not just a movie.
Read more »

July’s Memoirist of the Month: Dick Peterson

July 1st, 2013 by Shauna Greene

“Reading and writing Sixes provides a creative spark, as does commenting and conversing with the other Sixers. What a weapon against writer’s block it is. Seeing what other people do with words makes you a better writer.”

Name: Dick Peterson
Place: Kansas City
SMITH Member since: July 2010
Since Dick Peterson joined SMITH in 2010, much of his writing has been about…writing. From “Let it be written…and read” to “Don’t sit on it. Write it,” Dick has motivated himself and countless others to transform their thoughts into written words. Even his clever moniker pays homage to his beloved homeland and his yearning to write about it—Baton Rouge translates to Red Stick, he’s better known to the SMITH Community as RedStickWriter.

Dick lives in Kansas City, but explains he’s “a Missourian by employment, a Louisianan by birth, a Southerner by the grace of God, and a Tybee Islander at heart.” Currently writing his second novel, he says that his work in progress “is set in these places of intimate familiarity to me.”

While Dick has been selective with his submissions, we’ve noticed a steady rise in memoirs in recent months. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that come the end of July, Dick retires from banking after a career spanning more than four decades. With his own recent six words—“Banking career sunsetting, writing ideas dawning”—as inspiration, we’re so pleased to name Dick Peterson July’s Memoirist of the Month. Congratulations on the Spreadshirt T-shirt of your choice and, more importantly, on having more time to “write a Six, then a chapter.”

Read more »

Six-Word Memoirs of the Week in Words and Images

June 30th, 2013 by allison

This week’s Six-Word Memoirs ranged the whole spectrum of your thoughts, from warnings of the zombie apocalypse to declarations on the power of having red hair. To see the variety of this week’s illustrated memoirs, visit SMITH Magazine’s Tumblr, Pinterest, or Facebook.

“Keep Calm and Eat Some Challah”—Six Words on Jewish Life, Live in San Francisco

June 27th, 2013 by Larry Smith

“Jewish geography…better than Google Maps.”
“I left my heart in Israel.”
“My grandchildren? Wait, I have photos!”

What makes a good Six-Word Memoir? After reading more than 600,000 submissions to the Six-Word Memoir project from SMITH and publishing seven books of our favorites, the short answer is passion. We’re passionate about how we define our lives, our love, our work-and, of course, our faith. Boiling down faith to just six words forces you to get to the essence of what your faith means to you—so it’s not surprise that six words has proved to be popular prompt is churches and synagogues.

With the support of the Jewish cultural mavens at the nonprofit organization, Reboot, we kicked our look at faith with “Six Words on Jewish Life.” From identity and mother issues (see above), unfettered love of kugel to inner conflict over Israel, and the sheer joy of discussing and debating… everything, we all have a bit of the Jewish life within us. Our book, Oy! Only Six? Why Not More? Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life, offers 360 ways of looking at Jewish life—six words at a time.
Read more »

Six-Word Search: Learn

June 27th, 2013 by Shauna Greene


The Six-Word Memoir community is filled with lifelong learners. For many, summer is a time to take a break from education; for others, it’s a time of discovery. Your memoirs discuss things you want to learn, have learned, or wish others would learn. Your words are wishful, wistful, and downright skillful. Learn more about your fellow Sixers and their lessons learned year-round:

Teaching summer school; learning from students.


A learning disability? A teaching disability.


Life provides mountains. Learn to climb.


Learned to throw knives, parties, hissyfits.


Reserved. Not shy. Learn the difference.


Read more »

Classroom of the Month: The United Nations School

June 25th, 2013 by Larry Smith

This week’s featured classroom is located just down the road from SMITH Magazine’s Six-Word nerve center in Manhattan. The United Nations International School (UNIS) was founded in 1947 by United Nations affiliated families, and has multi-national staff from 70 countries and over 1,450 students from 120 countries. In other words, it’s a place that loves language. So I was delighted when middle school librarian and fan of Six Words, Vivian Ellner, invited me to lead a storytelling workshop with eighth graders in teacher Geoff Van Kirk and Dan Love’s classrooms. After sharing examples of Six-Word Memoirs and talking about what makes a good story—whether told in just six words or many more—we got down to the real business of the day: sharing our brief life stories.

Whether I’m in a classroom or corporate setting, when the people in the room know each other I like to play a game called, “How well do you know your friends?” Everyone in the room writes one or many Six-Word Memoirs and then passes them up to be read aloud. As I read each memoir, classmates or teammates try to guess whose story is it, along the way learning that, for example, that young Sophie has a pet ferret or Alex from the IT department was adopted. Take a look at this short video from Geoff Van Kirk’s eighth-grade class full of innovative, bold young storytellers.


Note: With the support of our publisher, Harper Perennial, we’ve created two free Six-Word Memoir lesson plans, one for our first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, as well as one for our teen book, I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure. Download a PDF of either or both below. All we ask in return is this: let us know how six words works in your class. We love sharing your stories with the rest of the SMITH community.

Teacher’s Guide: First Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)
Teacher’s Guide: Teen Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)

Six-Word Search: Endless Summer Sixes

June 24th, 2013 by Yael Roberts

This past Friday, June 21, marked the first day of summer, when the sun reached its highest point in the sky. This day, also known as the solstice, derived the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), is the longest day of the year. Six-Word Memoirists responded about their plans for the endless day.

But what about the longest season? Now that summer is upon us, time, like the sun, seems to stand still. The days are long, the nights even longer, and there is time to do and time to rest. Like all summers, this one may feel endless, but it too will come to an end. What will you do this summer? Read on below for some inspiration from your fellow sixers. From mixing mojitos to san digging with toes, these sixers plan on sweltering through a summer drenched in heat, sweat, and heart.

Copyright by Moyan Brenn (

Summer solstice skipped a beat. Raining.

Favorite activity on sultry summer evenings?

Summer attire; grease, sweat and paint.

Planting mint for summer mojito making.

Long days lead to longer nights.

Summer headed south. Sweltering, sweating, swatting.

Dug toes in sand, unearthed summer.

Summer: anguishing over bikinis and bodies.

Read more »

Six-Word Memoirs of the Week in Words and Images

June 23rd, 2013 by Allison Keene

In this week’s Six-Word Memoirs, you talked about achieving milestones, such as high school and college graduation, and making plans for the future. To see all of this week’s illustrated memoirs, visit SMITH Magazine’s Facebook, Tumblr, or Pinterest.

SMITH Magazine

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