“I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets immediately caught my attention because I literally struggle to keep my own secrets. I was completely enthralled and read the book from front to back. I found the other Six-Word Memoir books and read them all—that was when I fell in love with Six Words and SMITH Magazine.”
Name: Talitha Rae Degraff
Place: Atlanta, Georgia
SMITH Member Since: March 2013
Talitha Rae Degraff is a compelling young writer who knows no bounds (“Writers get to break the rules.”) With nearly 3,000 Six-Word Memoirs since joining us in 2013, her voice is filled with power and purpose (“‘Honey, those walls won’t protect you’”). Posting as torturedbutterfly, Talitha’s bravery is revealed in her poetry (“My skin will tell many stories”) and in the cadence of her spoken word (“They’re my wings. And I’m flying.”). Despite overwhelming challenges (“The winds have weathered my soul”), her resilience is impressive (“Creating characters who will save me”). Learn how Talitha transitioned from SMITHTeens to Six-Word Memoirist of the Month for March 2017 as she answers our Six Questions:
How did you first hear about Six-Word Memoirs?
As a teenager, I was always at the library—I read everything in the children’s section and on the YA wall. One day, there was a book on display: I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets immediately caught my attention because I literally struggle to keep my own secrets. I was completely enthralled and read the book from front to back. I found the other Six-Word Memoir books and read them all—that was when I fell in love with Six Words and SMITH Magazine.
I used to read every single memoir in the daily feed, starting from the War category and moving up the list of topics. Then life happened. I now check-in every few days to read the featured memoirs. Whenever I need a break in between school assignments and mandatory readings, I randomly click through the feed to see what’s up. I like to comment on sixes because everyone likes receiving positive comments!
When did you start writing and what have been turning points in your creative life?
I’ve been writing since I learned my ABCs. I once found all these little stories I had written in this messy, little-kid handwriting. Proof that I was born to write! I wrote my first novel at age nine, and thought, Hey, I didn’t know I could do that! At age sixteen, Teen Ink began publishing my poetry in their magazines. Mindblowing! When I started my Facebook and Instagram writing pages and YouTube channel, people actually began to listen to my words. Many people my age don’t know what they want to do with their lives yet. Me? The one thing I know is I am going to write.
Which authors do you enjoy or admire, including writers on Six-Word Memoirs?
I am inspired by authors who know how to reach teens and young adults. Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult are my favorite authors—I love that their words are able to evoke so many emotions in me. Thalia Chaltas, Nancy Werlin, and Ginny Yttrup have also inspired me greatly. Whenever I write, I want to make people feel things like my favorite authors do. Every time someone describes their emotions after they read my work, I have succeeded as a writer.
I love reading the sixes and backstories of Oh_Skinny and ksan. They always teach me something new and interesting. The words of knick-knack, NeilSlevin, and EveningCicada move and inspire, and urge me to create and move others. tsalagirl constantly amazes me with how innovative and gorgeous her sixes are. The way JohnBigJohn tells his beautiful stories, they remain lodged in my heart. BanjoDan always makes me laugh—I can always count on him when I’m feeling sad. Danir inspires me to live in the moment and stay young for as long as I can. And, straight from the Teens section, which I still frequent, I admire the sixes and backstories of Nope and all of the other teens who are wise beyond their years. I love reading everyone’s words; I love my SMITH family.
Can you share a favorite Six-Word Memoir, or other story of yours on SMITH and tell us why it’s meaningful to you?
I have been through a bit in my life, and my support system is gigantic. At every turn, I’ve had someone to call, whether virtually or in real life.“You taught me how to fly” is a favorite because I realize that nothing I’ve done has truly been by myself. There’s always someone before us, shining a light, or beneath us, allowing us to stand on their shoulders.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time and what do you enjoy doing?
I write as much as I can between taking online classes at Southern New Hampshire University and working as a photo technician. When I’m not writing, I like to spend time with my family. Whether it’s real time, Facetime, phone calls, or texts, I like to stay close to my mom and ten siblings. My family is easily the most important thing in my life. I currently live in Georgia, but I was raised in the hustle and bustle of Queens, New York. I also enjoy playing with and kissing up my kitty cats, Gingersnap (Ginger) and K.C. (Kitty Cat), whenever I’m home. Other than that, you can find me curled up with a blanket watching Star, Pitch, or This Is Us (also Empire, Nashville, or The Flash…).
Finally, Talitha, what are your Six Words for today?
“For one purpose only: to create.”