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Memoirist of the Month—November 2017: Amy Nealon

“If you had told me that someday I would have contributions in two wonderful books, Crush and Six Words: Fresh Off the Boat…I wouldn’t believe it was true. I’m still blown away by that. It’s an absolute Sally Field moment for me I keep replaying in my mind.”


Name:
 Amy Nealon
Place: Huntington Beach, California
SMITH Member Since: March 2015

You don’t have to write professionally to have a writer’s heart. Amy Nealon, whose profile name is FKA_Liza, is approaching 800 memoirs since joining us in 2015. Her thirst for creative expression is as rich (“Youth’s verve found within our wrinkles”) as it is vulnerable (“Little girl dressed in woman’s clothing”) — often served with humor  (“I’m a hoarder of tired phrases.”), and her beverage of choice (“I’ve a monogamous relationship with wine”). We were delighted Amy spoke at our at Skylight Books event for Six Words Fresh Off the Boat to share the personal backstory that strikes a chord regarding immigration: “Buried his accent, buried his identity.” Congratulations to Amy as our Memoirist of the Month for November 2017. Discover what draws her to storytelling as she answers our Six Questions:

How did you first hear about Six-Word Memoirs?
My best friend, Chelsey (ChewyD2) introduced me to SMITH and Six-Word Memoirs. Because of all the positive experiences she’s had on Six-Word Memoirs, I decided to give it a go. I was starving for a creative outlet, but too shy to have her know I was writing — because she’s a proper writer, and a good one at that, and I’m not. Silly of me, but I wanted to know if she ever liked something I wrote, it was on its own merit and not because it was me. So, I came up with the profile name, Lizasighs, based on a song by The Jam, and started writing. It was a whole year before I could confess. As it happened, we were both going to have contributions included in the book, Crush [Ed. note: the book in which a selection of stories from our SixContest were published alongside longer essays about celebrity crushes]. If she saw my name next to a Six about Mr. Darcy (“Oh to be Mr. Darcy’s shirt”), she would immediately know it was me. I’m happy to report she wasn’t upset I had kept this “secret” from her—a bit mystified, but not upset. She also liked some of my Sixes before she knew who really wrote them.

When did you start writing and what have been turning points in your creative life?
I was a fairly prolific journal and poetry writer in my late teens and through my twenties. A quote by Plato is printed on a favorite coffee mug of mine: “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” And I truly believed it; although it wasn’t so much love that got me writing, but heartbreak. On a move to England in 2005, I brought notebooks filled with my writings, ones that were packed away in a loft until I could get permanently situated; that permanence never came to pass and back to the U.S. I came. Unfortunately, my notebooks never made it back; I often joke that my best writings are lost somewhere in England. I gave up writing for a long time after that. I did mess around with a book idea that I had carried around for a while — made it as far as a title and an outline before I became overwhelmed with the whole process. Life somehow got in the way.

My writing on Six-Word Memoirs is the most I’ve done in a decade. I’ll always be grateful for this incredible outlet. I tend to hop on in the mornings to read the Editor’s Picks while I’m trying to wake up. There are times when there is this rush of ideas that I have to write about; then times when my creativity, my thoughtful side, needs to hibernate. I’ll go quiet briefly, then bounce back refreshed and wanting to see what’s going on with everyone. I didn’t anticipate how much I would love the SixContests. I’m competitive to a degree, so I’m always dying to know which contributions made the top Six. I’ll always remember the first contest I participated in, SixContest #48,“Six-Word Tribute to an Inspirational Woman.” On the day after I joined Six Words, I submitted “My grandmother proudly wore combat boots” and my first backstory. I felt like I’d won the lottery when my Six was the #1 favorite. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do a little victory lap around the living room. But beyond the outcome, these contests always have a way of getting my mind moving in a different direction, which I truly appreciate.

Which authors do you enjoy or admire, including writers on Six-Word Memoirs?
I am an unapologetic lover of all things Jane Austen.  Other favorites include: Nick HornbyC.S. LewisMaeve BinchyAlison WeirDorothy ParkerL.M. MontgomeryNora EphronTina Fey, and Carrie Fisher.

I didn’t anticipate connecting with other community members. After I got over “putting myself out there” and started commenting, I found many kindred spirits on this site I would have never met had I let my shyness get in the way. I gravitate to Sixers who write with heart and humor; those who nail that for me include: ChewyD2J3nnyJRE23Oh_SkinnyNeilSlevinJohnBigJohnNeesha101jl333CanadaGoosecanadafreezetagishcharleyBanjoDanzsuzsu, and Loon. Lot of favorite writers I’m forgetting here—please forgive me.

Can you share a favorite Six-Word Memoir, or other story of yours on SMITH and tell us why it’s meaningful to you?
My favorite personal memoirs happen to be about my grandmothers — the memoir I mentioned previously, and “I’m forgetting how lovely you felt” about my other grandmother. Both were written from completely different places in my heart, but I was proud to pay tribute to both these women I loved dearly. In terms of moments, if you told me once upon a time that someday I would have contributions in two wonderful books, Crush and Six Words: Fresh Off the Boat, I would literally have laughed in your face. I wouldn’t, couldn’t believe it was true. I’m still blown away by that. It’s an absolute Sally Field moment for me I keep replaying in my mind.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time and what do you enjoy doing?
I’m an inside sales and customer service manager for a motion and control company. I’m also obtaining my Certificate of Achievement in Human Resource Management. In a previous life, I’m certain I was a hermit crab, so being home with my husband, gardening (brown thumb and all), reading, cooking, baking, and having a bit of wine in the evening tops the list. I love getting together with family or girlfriends for a good old-fashioned chin wag. I’m a very proud auntie and love spoiling my youngest nephew and niece. I enjoy annual trips back to Ireland with my husband and love traveling in general. I’ve been told that I’m all things Christmas, which I won’t disagree with. [Editor’s Note: read “A love story within each ornament” and you’ll agree]. And, oh yeah, I enjoy having a bit of wine.

Finally, Amy Nealon, what are your Six Words for today?
“Wouldn’t trade this life for anything.”

Comments

  • jl333
    November 2, 2017

    Well, well, well! Look who is MOTM! As soon as I saw your picture, I knew it was you before even read the name. I recognize your picture from previous postings. Congrats on the feature. Your story about creating a fake name cracked me up. That is too funny.

    • Amy
      November 3, 2017

      JL, thanks so much again! 🙂
      Your Sixes always put a smile on my face.

  • Ellis Reyes
    November 2, 2017

    Hooray for you!!! Congrats on this month’s MOTM.

    • Amy
      November 3, 2017

      Thank you, Ellis! Have been loving the math lessons! Hope you keep those up.

  • Krystyna (CG)
    November 2, 2017

    Hi Amy!
    Congratulations on being November’s MOTM!!
    Great to learn more about you. Thank you for your spectacular Sixes and for being a genuinely wonderful member of the Six community.
    Looking forward to reading more of your creative Sixes.

    Krystyna (CG)

    • Amy
      November 3, 2017

      Hi CG 😉
      Thank you for your wonderful comments.

  • Canadafreeze
    November 2, 2017

    Congratulations! It was so much fun learning about your journey to SWM. Very creative:-). Looking forward to the next hundreds.

  • J3nny
    November 2, 2017

    Beautiful Miss Liza. I just KNEW it was gonna be you! It’s about time! Congratulations to you, sista! I love everything you post, all of the time, forever and ever. 😉

    Now can you move here to Canada?

    xo Jen

    • Amy
      November 3, 2017

      You must know you are one of my favorite people even though we’ve never “met”. Thank you for your comments!
      All the best to you! 😘

      So, where do we sign up? 😂

  • Lisa
    November 2, 2017

    Love reading your words. Congratulations Amy.
    -Lisa

  • Susan (zsuzsu)
    November 2, 2017

    Congratulations on being November’s MOTM, Amy! It’s nice to get to know you better because I’ve always enjoyed your Sixes. And thanks for mentioning me as one of your favorites; it’s much appreciated. Enjoy your month!

  • Janna
    November 2, 2017

    Congratulations! I saw you at Skylight Books in Los Angeles and was so happy that you shared! I look forward to more of your Sixes!

    • Amy
      November 3, 2017

      Thanks so much Janna! It was a nerve-wracking night for me, but glad I could share! Definitely not an evening I’ll ever forget!

  • JoC
    November 2, 2017

    Congratulations Amy/FKA_Liza! Enjoyed reading your story, and I admire the secretive nature of your joining without your friend Chewy knowing. I’ve enjoyed many of your sixes and backstories. Kudos to you!
    Josie

    • Amy
      November 3, 2017

      Josie, it was so hard not to spill the beans!
      Thanks for your kind words! It’s been a pleasure reading your Sixes as well!

      All the best,
      Amy

  • Michael
    November 2, 2017

    Big-time congratulations on your being recognized, and I love the introductory picture. Haven’t been to the Huntington Beach area since the mid 90’s, but if memory serves me correctly, it’s a great place for “sixes” inspiration. Well take a bow! Enjoy your month, and keep the sixes coming.

    • Amy
      November 3, 2017

      Thanks, Michael! HB is definitely a great source of inspiration!

      • Michael
        November 4, 2017

        Sorry Amy, I typed in my first “real” name instead of user name, JaydenGinoprice. One day I’ll have this computer thing licked.

  • Loon
    November 2, 2017

    Enjoyed getting to know you. I always like putting a face onto the Sixes. Don’t stop cranking out high quality stuff.

    • Amy
      November 3, 2017

      Loon, thanks for the constant supply of laughs! Your Sixes are much appreciated.

  • Silken
    November 2, 2017

    Congratulations Amy!! So lovely to meet you.
    Kind regards from Europe.

  • catsmeow
    November 3, 2017

    Happy to meet the author of such consistently awesome Sixes.

  • bevvie
    November 3, 2017
  • JohnBigJohn
    November 4, 2017

    Yay!! So so so so well deserved!!!

  • NumbrOneAunt
    November 4, 2017

    loved reading this! you and chewy could definitely be taken for sisters by looks, but even more important is the fact that you’re sisters of the heart. i’m so glad you broke through shyness to become a SWM regular, because you are a positive and refreshing voice. AND you’re a fellow member of the proud auntie club 🙂 know you’ll enjoy every day as MOTM!

  • DynamicDbytheC
    November 4, 2017

    Hi Amy. I have always enjoyed your memoirs and it is fun getting to know more about you. I can’t believe I missed, “Youth’s verve found within our wrinkles.” Rich and I will use this forever. Oh, and I am getting more verve every year. Never heard the saying Chinwag so I learned something, too. Northern neighbor, let’s have a chinwag if you are ever in San Diego. I am pretty sure we can get jl333 to join in if we bring cookies. DDC/DynamicDbytheC/Danette

  • Kharis
    November 5, 2017

    Congratulations Amy, and never doubt that you’re a real writer! I have thoroughly enjoyed your sixes and backstories and am pleased to rediscover the Christmas ornament six. Enjoy your month of well deserved recognition 🙂

  • JAD
    November 5, 2017

    Liza, congrats! very deserving indeed. Enjoy your Sally Field moments. Keep writing.

  • Tricia
    November 8, 2017

    Amy, Congrats on MOTM! Yes, we all really like you! 🙂
    You undoubtedly harbor a writer’s heat; lucky us. Thanks for letting us al get to know you a bit.
    Best,
    Tricia/Trix95

  • Krista
    November 15, 2017

    Amy/Liza,
    CONGRATULATIONS! on MOTM! It’s always fun to learn more about the people who SIX so well! I would say your writing and your info in the story above show how you drink in all life has to offer (yes, that includes your love of wine, too;) ). Happy Thanksgiving to you!
    SouthPorch (Krista)

  • torturedbutterfly
    February 14, 2018

    Congratulations!!

    • Amy
      February 26, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂 I miss your writing. I hope you’re keeping well.

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