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Memoirist of the Month—March 2017: Talitha Rae Degraff

DSC_0770-edit2I 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 hPhotoGrid_1486718495895ave 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 lifePhotoGrid_1470699933242 (1). 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.”

Comments

  • enginethatcould
    March 1, 2017

    There’s our girl! Finally, in the honored spot of MOTM. Your bio is as beautiful as you and your memoirs. Congratulations, so glad to see you featured! =)

  • Cara
    March 1, 2017

    So excited for this. Congratulations. Love reading so much about you and how life inspires your writing.

  • NeilSlevin
    March 1, 2017

    Congratulations, TB! You’ve already come so far, and I don’t believe there is any limit to your potential.

    Love and best,
    NS

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Awww, thank you, Neil!!!! Xo. ????

  • jl333
    March 1, 2017

    If it isn’t our very own TB! Yay you. It’s really nice to read more about you. From the start, it was obvious that writing is your passion. Follow your passion. You will go far in life, I just know it. Congrats on the nice feature!

    jl333

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Thank you, jl!!! I will continue to follow my passion, I promise. ????

  • JAD
    March 1, 2017

    Awesome, smart, young lady, beyond your years….congrats!

  • Canadafreeze
    March 1, 2017

    Congratulations! Your writing inspires, TB. You have a gift and you use it well. I have no doubt you will continue to make a mark with your words. Happy March:-)

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Awwww, thank you, cf. My greatest hope is to inspire. Happy March!!! ????

  • zsuzsu
    March 1, 2017

    How great to see you as MOTM, Talitha. It’s always special to read your words, as you are a talented writer. You grace March with your presence. Enjoy your month!

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Thanks, zsuzsu!!! I will enjoy it!! ????

  • Oh_Skinny
    March 1, 2017

    Talitha! Talitha! Talitha! I am so thrilled to finally meet you. You’ve made my month and it’s only just begun. Know that I am forever proud of you and congratulate you on this long-deserved honor. You are wise beyond your years, my friend. I am honored to be a member of Team Talitha. Peace, Mr. Skinny ????

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Awww, I’m glad I made your month. Thank you for always being proud. Xo. ????

  • J3nny
    March 1, 2017

    The beautiful, brilliant TB. So happy to read more about you, and see you honored here. SO well deserved. You are such a positive force in the Universe. Glad to have “met” you.

    Love to you, little miss.

    xo Jen

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Thank you, Jenny!!! You should see my smile. Xo. ????

  • Krystyna
    March 1, 2017

    Congratulations, Talitha, on MOTM! Great to see you featured and learn more about you.
    With your exceptional talent, you will soar to the top. I believe in that wholeheartedly.
    Wishing you the best, butterfly,
    Krystyna

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Thank you so much, Krystyna!!! And thank you for believing in me. ????

  • Solstice
    March 1, 2017

    Tbutterfly!!!!!! I am so jazzed!!!
    Did you hear he yell Yay all the way from California???? My neighbors sure did!
    Congratulations from the bottom of my heart.

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Solstice, I think your yay is still echoing. I am so glad to see you here. Thank you so much. ????

  • BanjoDan
    March 1, 2017

    You are a special young lady and an amazing writer already, best wishes on your journey as an author and poet!

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Thank you so much, BD!!!! ????

  • JoC
    March 1, 2017

    Way to go, Talitha! What an impressive story. So happy for your being named MOTM! Congratulations. I enjoy reading your memoirs, and your responses to the six questions are very impressive, too.
    Best to you and yours!
    Josie

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Thank you, Josie!!! I enjoyed reading your responses a couple months ago, too.????

  • bevvie
    March 1, 2017
  • Neesha
    March 1, 2017

    This is wonderful! Congrats, Talitha! You so deserve this grand spotlight. I enjoyed getting to know you better. You’re one of a kind, to say the least. Keep on writing and inspiring the rest of us with your brilliant thoughts.

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Thanks, Neesha!!! I definitely will. ????

  • Ellis Reyes
    March 2, 2017

    Hey Congrats TB!! It is wonderful to see a bright, young, amazing writer recognized in this way. Keep ’em coming!

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Thanks you, Ellis. I sure will. ????

  • Ksan
    March 2, 2017

    Mariposa great to see you flying over life’s valleys and mountain tops in such elegant flight paths.

    You have gifts.

    They may lead you along unusual artistic pathways. Your gifts are abundant and my selfish hope is that you will keep on creating and sharing your art with others.

    Then the world will surely be a more interesting and vibrant place,

    Fly em easy,

    Ksan

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 2, 2017

      Tis not selfish. When given the gift of words, I was also given the responsibility to use them for others as well as myself. Thank you, ksan. Xo. ????

  • Silken
    March 2, 2017

    Beautiful writing, a beautiful young mind.
    So happy to read you Talitha.

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 9, 2017

      Thank you, Silken!!! ????

  • NumbrOneAunt
    March 2, 2017

    congrattulations, talitha! i know that life has been incredibly difficult for you. i hope that a) you are safe b) you will continue to share your amazing talent with us here at SWM c) your perseverance and determination (you can’t imagine doing anything other than writing) combined with that talent will lead to the career you dream of and so richly deserve! {{{HUGS}}}

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 9, 2017

      Thank you so much, NOA. ????

  • catsmeow
    March 2, 2017

    I’m looking forward to the day I will say, “I knew her when…”. You have a worthy talent and a shining spirit. Nice to “meet” you.

  • Susan Schwenk
    March 2, 2017

    Congratulations on receiving this honor, Talitha. I am beyond thrilled for you and was mightily impressed as I read your bio. You are an amazing young woman who has so much to share with the world. Your sensitivity, bravery, and discipline in life shows beautifully in your writing. I look forward to reading more.
    Susiebell

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 9, 2017

      Thank you so much, Susiebell. I look forward to writing more!! ????

  • ADHDean
    March 2, 2017

    Anybody surprised? I’m not surprised. Good for you, TB! I wholeheartedly concur with ksan: you have a gift that must be shRed.

    And Atlanta?! I’m there all the time! Perhaps we’ll cross paths someday. There are some groovy Sixers not too far from you.

    😀

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 9, 2017

      Thanks, Dean!! Yeah, a few of y’all live pretty close. Hopefully someday. ????

  • shelldefelice
    March 2, 2017

    Wow! You are such beauty! I’ve loved your honest, cut through style of writing and admired your “old soul” gift at the craft! Happy to learn more…keep going!
    xoxoxoxo
    Shell

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 9, 2017

      Thank you so much, Shell!!! iI definitely will. Xoxoxo. ????

  • liberata
    March 3, 2017

    Such a pleasure to read your story and get to know you better, Talitha! Keep on writing!

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 9, 2017

      Thank you, liberata. I will. ????

  • Wench
    March 3, 2017

    You are such a beautiful soul inside and out. It was nice reading more about you. Maybe some day, our paths will cross. My door is always open to you, TB. ❤️

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 9, 2017

      Thank you so much, Wench. I hope we will meet someday. Xo. ????

  • Susan_Breeden
    March 4, 2017

    Talitha! It was so wonderful to see you featured as MOTM!! As others have expressed, you are such a beautiful person…inside and out. Congratulations!

  • Kharis
    March 4, 2017

    Talitha (“Talitha cumi”- little girl arise)- your name expresses perfectly the bright rising star you are. Your writing is beautiful, inspiring, sometimes heart-wrenching, and always deeply moving. Congratulations on MOTM because no one deserves it more. Wishing you every happiness in your life and every success with your writing.

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 9, 2017

      Thank you, Kharis. I honestly rarely go by my full name, and I’m just learning to embrace the meaning of it. Thank you so much for your sweet words. ????

  • DynamicDbytheC
    March 9, 2017

    Talitha, I would never have guessed that you were so young. Your words inspire and reach beyond your years. You are born to write and fly. Leave the tortured behind but let it propel you forward. So glad to know more about you.
    DynamicDbytheC/DDC/Danette

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 9, 2017

      Yes, just 19 years young. Thank you so much, DDC!! Your words are touching. ????

  • SouthPorch (Krista)
    March 15, 2017

    Talitha,
    Congratulations on much deserved recognition! It’s exciting to see torturedbutterfly and read more about you! You have a big heart. Keep sharing it and your words with the world!

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 28, 2017

      Thank you, SouthPorch!!! I will. ????

  • Maeva
    March 15, 2017

    Oh my gosh, congratulations, TB!! 😀 No one deserves this more than you. Your sixes and wonderful commentary have made me smile, feel pain, or sigh many a time. You are such a gifted writer, and I’ve loved reading your memoirs ever since we were still crafting stories in the teen section, haha. Keep being amazing, and again, congratulations! 🙂

    • torturedbutterfly
      March 28, 2017

      Thanks, Maeva!!!!! I am blessed to write alongside you. My, yes, we have come a long way, haha. Thank you, girly. ????

  • G_Austin
    April 26, 2017

    Wait! what? How did I miss this? I am so happy for you. Why to go young lady. I may not be around much lately, but I often think of my NaNoWriteMo buddy. You are tender soul. I am so glad I looked back. Sorry I’m so late to the coronation by over a month. Be well – Guy

    • torturedbutterfly
      February 14, 2018

      Haha, I’m glad I looked back, as well, and saw this comment. Thank you so much, Guy. I never forget you either. Thank you for being a part of this. Xo.

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