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Memoirist of the Month, December 2013: Mishell DeFelice

“I can honestly thank the amazing writers here for the radio gig I’ve landed. Learning how to cut out the nonsense, the peripheral fluff in a message, and tell it in six translates smoothly into writing or editing advertising copy.”

Name: Mishell DeFelice
Place: South Lake Tahoe, CaliforniaMOTM Dec 2013 1st
SMITH member since: January, 2013

Mishell DeFelice is a relative newbie to Six Words, although she’s no stranger to our community. ShellDeFelice caught our eye from day one when we featured her very first memoir: “I’m often terse, but always unforgettable.” With barely a year under her Six-Word belt and nearly 500 memoirs to date, she’s still catching our attention with her quips (“Been pushed down. Gonna cowgirl up.”), observations (“Blue mood. Blue lake. Paradigm shift.”) and retorts (“Disdain, you are excused. Please go.”). Congrats to Shell, December’s Memoirist of the Month. No doubt she’ll pick a fantastic Six Words for her commemorative t-shirt, thanks to our friends at Spreadshirt.  But don’t stop here, read more—in Six questions, of course—about what makes Shell unforgettable.

When did you start writing, and what have been turning points in your creative life?
When I was a little girl and someone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said,” A translator for the UN or a writer.” Pretty sure the UN isn’t going to happen in this life, but writing…there is a real possibility!

I had never written in a public sense before SMITH. This format fits my writing style and personality perfectly because too many words lose me, whether spoken or written. I am incredibly high energy; I never sit still for long and my communication style is terse and straightforward.

The first six I wrote was in college: “I’m often terse, but always unforgettable.” It was also the first six I posted on SMITH. Very quickly I wanted to change it to “We’re often terse, but always unforgettable.”  I couldn’t get over how much talent was here.

I work for a local radio station, selling advertising and writing ad copy. I can honestly thank SMITH Mag and the amazing writers here for the radio gig I’ve landed. Learning how to cut out the nonsense, the peripheral fluff in a message, and tell it in six translates smoothly into writing or editing advertising copy. Writing song lyrics is also on my bucket list; I think SMITH is a great training ground for that dream as well.

What authors inspire you or do you admire?
Back in high school, it was Pearl S. Buck, Steinbeck, and Tolstoy…as an adult, I don’t read much fiction. I enjoy reading about psychology, communication, and quantum physics, the latter because I am fascinated by the subject and not nearly smart enough to “get it.” I’ve read Universe on a T-Shirt by Dan Falk several times and nothing sticks!

Learning how we can better relate to each other is a personal quest and I’ll read anything that sheds light in that area. A favorite quote from Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: “The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” (Don’tcha want to turn that into a stream of Sixes?)

How did you first hear about Six Words and has someone’s writing on SMITH especially moved you?
I first heard about writing a story in six words from a college professor. I stumbled or Googled my way onto SMITH, trying to write a story in three words and realizing I needed just a few more. What caused me to “hang out” and write a few Sixes was a journey being written by DynamicDbytheC. In just a few of her sixes, she had me hooked (“Afraid of tomorrow, hiding in today.” “Came with baggage. He carried it.” “Trying to achieve old and boring.” “Our life is sad, we’re not,”) and I felt written words like I had never before experienced. I’ve since learned the journey was more painful than most people can endure, but her ability to consolidate and convey the raw emotion in so few words was—is—awe-inspiring.

Many brilliant creative minds contribute here. Canadafreeze answered this so beautifully last month, I don’t even want to try and follow in her footsteps. The big fear in naming names is that you’ll forget someone, right?

I had the honor of meeting Catsmeow in person and I adored her instantly. After our meeting, I realized that although we (in the Six Words “sandbox”) come from many different backgrounds and live such uniquely different lives, we all share this crazy core of wanting to pare down life into six expressive words. I have a feeling we all would enjoy each other’s company and I hope a get together is in the near future.

You were a passionate contributor to our inaugural Six-Word Festival on Twitter, what appealed to you about it?
It was great fun reading and writing the Sixes. I was a tad bit star struck thinking about such famous people reading my stuff!! I really did enjoy the festival. I was tweeting frantically—I am such a competitive person—trying to win a book! The pace was quite exhausting though, or maybe I made it exhausting because I tried to see how many quality Sixes I could tweet.

MOTM Dec 2013 2nd

“Queen of 30-second dance party”

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I have four amazing grown children who as adults are off living their lives to the fullest. I also have a six-year old daughter, Ella, and the best part of any day is hanging out with her. I always joke that having a child late in life “wasn’t Mensa family planning!” but the truth is, I’ve been given an opportunity to really pay attention. The priceless moments of childhood evaporate in your hands. We can’t change that, but this time around, I remind myself daily to breath in her littleness before it is gone. I can still smell the occasional intoxicating baby in her hair and I treasure every second. I also have “Drew the day in sidewalk chalk” on the fridge to remind me to be present.

Finally, Shell DeFelice, what are your Six Words for today?
Dauntlessly consoling fear and reassuring Author.

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