“Six Words is a place that keeps me writing, but more importantly, keeps me intrigued and amazed.”
Name: Krista Cox
Place: Alma, Nebraska
SMITH Member Since: October 2014
When Krista Cox won our SixContest, “First Six Words of Your Novel,” we discovered that her connection to Six-Word Memoirs extends beyond our site and into the classroom (Classroom Of The Month: Krista Cox’s Creative Writing Class At Alma Public School). Although the demands of teaching means she posts less often during the school year, Krista is an eloquent Sixer (“Their spirits hovered over antiquated ”) with more than 300 memoirs and SixContest entries since joining us as SouthPorch in 2014. She is masterful with metaphors (“Drunk on possibility. Hungover on reality.”) and skilled at symbolism (“Syrians and monarchs: flight to rebirth.”). Our congratulations to Krista Cox as our Memoirist of the Month for August 2017. Learn what makes her memoirs so vivid as she answers our Six Questions:
How did you first hear about Six-Word Memoirs?
A colleague shared one of the creative writing ideas from a class she had taken—it was associated with Hemingway’s “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I believe the suggested curriculum included a link to Six-Word Memoirs and SMITH. I was intrigued with the idea of having students use six words to describe their lives and the novels we read in class. I was instantly hooked. I am a sporadic Six-Word Memoirs user. Sometimes the site is my social media and I may spend up to an hour a day reading Sixes, commenting on them, and writing my own sixes, at times with backstories (usually in the summer). More often, though, I log on every few days, peruse the editor’s picks, scroll through the daily feed, add a memoir or two, and check out the newest contest.
When did you start writing and what have been turning points in your creative life?
I began writing in elementary school. Mom always believed in me. I realized it when she told me sent some of my poems to Humpty Dumpty magazine. I learned about rejection quite early; my poems didn’t make Humpty Dumpty. Rejection didn’t stop me, though. In college, I was an English major, so I had to keep writing—sometimes it was even for fun. My current responsibilities as a teacher include the school’s newsletter. I began writing the opinion piece “Cox Comment” and community feedback kept me writing it for several years. I no longer include that piece now the school has so much news to to share.
Six-Word Memoirs has been another creative turning point. I joined the fall of 2014 and enjoyed the warm, welcoming, positive atmosphere. Plus, I was pretty darned surprised “They buried the baby on Sunday” won a contest. Six Words is a place that keeps me writing, but more importantly, keeps me intrigued and amazed. Any time I look at the site, I am enthralled with the abilities of other Sixers. The people who use the site are terrific wordsmiths! They make me laugh, tear up, and think; and they do it six words at a time.
Which authors do you enjoy or admire, including writers on Six-Word Memoirs?
People ask me this question often, because I’m an English teacher, but I never have a prepared answer. My list is always changing, but Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and K.M. Peyton’s Flambards trilogy always make the list. I’ve been captivated by each of Khaled Hosseini’s very different novels. Louise Erdrich’s The Master Butchers Singing Club and Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune haunt my memory. Lately, Tom McNeal’s and Laura McNeal’s books have made it to the top of my book stack that never seems to get smaller.
I love that SMITH has so many memoir categories. It keeps the site fresh. The backstories never get stale because there’s no formula for what people can include. I have found Sixers are generous supporters; the writers here are so giving. They invite us into their homes and lives—a bold step. We experience their sorrow, challenges, excitement, memories, laughter, and physical pain. I’ve gone months without checking in, too, but it’s like coming home when I sign in again and find the mainstays like ADHDean, BanjoDan, CanadaGoose, Loon, Solstice, jl333, Jugggler, J3nny, JAD, and Oh_Skinny still sixing.
Can you share a favorite Six-Word Memoir, or other story of yours on SMITH and tell us why it’s meaningful to you?
“Your voice is why I call,” is one of my favorite memoirs, even though it was written in sadness. After nearly two and half years of remission, my sister’s cancer returned with vengeance and her death was swift. To soothe my grief-filled heart, I called my sister’s house phone when her husband was gone just to hear her voice on their answering machine. I received many kind comments from fellow Sixers. The combined power of my sister’s words and the words of the people on Six Words brought comfort.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time and what do you enjoy doing?
I’m a high school English teacher in a K-12 school with just over 300 students, total. I enjoy cooking and gardening; quite a few of my sixes refer to food in some way. I grew up on a farm and we had a huge garden. My town garden is much smaller, but getting my hands dirty still makes me happy. Trying new recipes and attempting to make food like Mom and Grandma used to cook keeps my entertained, too.
I also love traveling. My husband gave me the travel bug. He believed it was important for our children to experience the world beyond the Midwest, so we traveled during summer and Christmas vacations. We were both teachers, so it worked perfectly—our daughter and son saw parts of Europe, a couple of Hawaiian islands, Washington, D.C., San Diego, and more. I’m still teaching; he retired and now works construction. Maybe once he really retires and I move on to a part-time job, we will check off more places from our list.
Finally, there’s walking and sitting on the front porch. Walking keeps me sane. It’s also where I compose many of my sixes. Our front porch tops my list of favorites. It’s where I go to read, relax, listen to the birds, and entertain our friends. Perhaps you’ve guessed by now, it faces south. When we purchased the home, we fell in love with the Craftsman Bungalow woodwork, its size, and its backstory. It only took the first spring and summer living in it, though, to understand that the real treasure was its front porch. It’s our gathering place and the inspiration for “South porch solitude quells day’s craziness.”
Finally, Krista Cox, what are your Six Words for today?
“Life’s surprising. Embrace its unexpected gifts. ”