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Memoirist of the Month—September 2017: Janna King

Social media can be really mean. The Six-Word Memoirs community is exactly the opposite—kind, interested and encouraging.”

Name: Janna King
Place: Los Angeles, California
SMITH Member Since: July 2013

Janna King’s entries in our SixContests are crowd favorites. Her Six Words for relieving stress? “Bourbon with a splash of funk.” With nearly 300 memoirs since joining us in 2013 as BigMammaPetunia, her tales of modern day life are forthright (“Life’s chaos has stolen my sleep.”) and often entertaining (“Right text. Wrong recipient. Big trouble.”). Through it all, her love of family (“Lucky my kids made me Mom.”) and words reign supreme (“My writing addiction spawned mental hangover.”) Congratulations to Janna King as our Memoirist of the Month for September 2017. Discover what makes her a go-getter as she answers our Six Questions:

How did you first hear about Six-Word Memoirs?
I was looking for literary communities online and I read an article about Larry Smith. I found @sixwords on Twitter and saw the Sixes and the topics. I love word puzzles, so painting a picture in only six words was enticing to me. But mostly, when I went to the site, I was comforted by the members’ welcoming attitude. Social media can be really mean. The Six-Word Memoirs community is exactly the opposite—kind, interested and encouraging.

I check the site at least twice a week, more depending how much I’m procrastinating with work. I’m always happy when I look. Sixes invite people to connect and we need more of that connection in the world, so I favorite many and write comments because want other Sixers to know I appreciate their thoughts and feelings. As for my own Sixes, they run the gamut. I need to express myself and doing it in a pithy way is an excellent creative exercise. Sometimes I write about big stuff. I’m a new empty nester, so I have much to say about that. I also recently lost my dad, so I wrote a couple Sixes about the heartbreak, and the Six community has been supportive and lovely. Occasionally I throw one off just for fun and some of those have been surprising Editor’s Picks. Any time I receive kudos on the site, I’m thrilled to no end. My Six name, BigMammaPetunia, comes from being a very protective mama bear (much to my kids’ chagrin), and my husband calls me “Petunia” when I say things that are less-than-ladylike, which is often.

When did you start writing and what have been turning points in your creative life?
I started writing at ten when my mom gave me my first journal. I took it to a grassy roundabout in my neighborhood and poured my feelings out on paper. From that day on, I knew that I wanted to be two “things” when I grew up: a mom and a writer. With luck, love and hard work, I attained both dreams. Freelance writing for a living is a gift and a challenge. I’ve been able to do all the daily mom responsibilities, often writing while sitting in the carpool line at school or during their karate classes (“Working mom requirement: Proficiency in juggling.”). The con of freelancing is the constant hustle because it’s gig to gig. I’m always worried that work won’t come after I finish a project. I don’t give myself any time to rest on my laurels (when I have laurels).

I write in many different areas because I need to put food on the table. I tell anyone who wants to be a writer: you can’t always be choosy, and taking a gig in an area you think isn’t for you actually can be very rewarding. Big turning points: getting anything produced or published. Really big turning points: producing passion projects myself. After 20 years of writing, I became the cliché and decided “I want to direct” so I made two short films and put up two plays. Writing is very solitary, so collaborating with other creatives has been amazing. Being part of a team that’s aiming for the same goal is life affirming. My writing career, like any career, has its ups and downs (“Submitting work is like cliff jumping”). Most of all, I am always grateful to work.

Which authors do you enjoy or admire, including writers on Six-Word Memoirs?
I am a fan of biographical and biographically-inspired works: Joan Didion, Augusten Burroughs, Anthony BourdainDear Mr. You by Mary Louis Parker made me laugh and cry (in public on a plane). I enjoy juicy reads like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I also love Shel Silverstein.

I am such a huge fan of the entire Six Words community. Everyone who participates is creatively talented and generous of spirit. I’m moved and entertained by J3nny, jl333, CanadaGoose, canadafreeze, Oh_Skinny, NumbrOneAunt, ADHDean, Ellis_Reyes, Jugggler, Loon, and BanjoDan. NeilSlevin is a beautiful writer and inspired me to consistently “six.”

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 stopped waiting and started doing.” Backstory: At 52, I’ve had the best work year of my life (I just knocked wood 100 times). I have always done my best—putting my nose to the grindstone and gettin’ it done. I’m accommodating and prompt. I’ve persevered, never giving up when I felt like I didn’t have it in me anymore. What has changed that helped me hit a certain stride (knocking wood again)? I stopped waiting. I stopped waiting for other people to help me, say “yes,” give me permission, tell me I’m good, and give me the f#%king keys to my own city. I don’t need the f#%king keys. I am the city. The funny thing is, I need to read this Six over constantly as a self-pep talk.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time and what do you enjoy doing?
I’m born and raised in the City of Angels. For the past two decades, I’ve cobbled together a career as a freelance writer—from TV movies and one-hour dramas to children’s animated television and plays, two kids’ books, and I’m now writing my first novel. I’m also the co-founder of a site for women over 40 called The Broad Life (www.thebroad.life). We cover everything from fashion to relationships to career change, parenting and midlife humor—if you can’t laugh at life by this time, you’re missing the point. I’m always writing! I love hanging out with my family. My kids are now away at college, so my poor husband has had to deal with a weepy wife. He’s an enthusiastic gear-head, so we take drives, long and short. I like to get my butt off my desk chair and work out (I taught aerobics in the days of spandex and legwarmers). Then, I eat cookies, because they are one of the four basic writer food groups: cookies, coffee, cheese, bourbon. And I take a lot of photos of my two rescue dogs.

Finally, Janna King, what are your Six Words for today?
“I write because I can’t not.” How’s that for articulate? Seriously, there have been times when I’ve wanted to give up because writing for a living is tough. But I just can’t help myself.

Comments

  • bevvie
    September 1, 2017
    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Thank you, bevvie! I enjoy your Sixes!

  • jl333
    September 1, 2017

    Wow, oh, wow, with a huge KAPOW!! You look like a movie star. I’ve always enjoyed your sixes. I hope now that you’re an empty Nester that you will write more. So glad to finally learn more about you and your writing and your plays, etc. Congrats on being September MOTM

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      jl333 – I saw your latter comment first. Thank you for all your compliments! I can’t tell you how good they make me feel! Very grateful!

  • Ksan
    September 1, 2017

    Pleasure to meet you BMP! Keep sixing…

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Ksan – Thank you for touching base. I will never stop sixing!

  • jl333
    September 1, 2017

    Haha! I like your profile cartoon picture! Well done

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      I draw those for my whole family. Saves me money on birthday and anniversary cards (and love notes).

  • Canadafreeze
    September 1, 2017

    Wow! What a wonderful read. It is so good to learn more about you, Janna, and to finally learn the truth about food groups. Brilliant:-)
    Congratulations on being featured for September.

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Canadafreeze! I’m always so happy to see your comments on my sixes, and to read yours! You are my Six pal! Now my kids are in college at both sides of Canada – my daughter in Montreal and my son in Vancouver. We are fans!

  • Susan (zsuzsu)
    September 1, 2017

    Congrats on being MOTM, Janna! It’s great meeting you and reading about your busy, creative and interesting life. Enjoy your month.

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Hi, Susan! Thank you! I wish my life wasn’t quite so busy sometimes, but I feel blessed. I love your sixes!

  • Krystyna
    September 1, 2017

    Congratulations, Jenna, on being September’s MOTM! Pleasure to learn more about you.
    Ride the tide. Fix on Six.

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Thank you, Krystyna! What an honor! I always need my Fix on Six.

  • jl333
    September 1, 2017

    By the way, a checked out your website “the broad life”. What an interesting site. I read more about you, and I found it fascinating that what scares me most is fish touching you under the water. I can totally relate to this because that also scares me. I also like the fact that you have a link for how people can help support those who were affected by hurricane Harvey. What a fantastic site. I hope more people check it out.

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      jL333, I’m always grateful when you connect with me on SWM. And I’m so happy you like The Broad Life! If there is something you’d like us to cover, let me know. I look forward to your sixes! They’re great! Fish touching our feet – not so much. 🙂

  • JAD
    September 1, 2017

    Congrats! Janna, very deserving indeed. Your writing, over the top.

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Thank you, JAD! What a nice compliment!

  • J3nny
    September 1, 2017

    Ms Janna,
    So nice to learn more about you, my fellow “petunia” haha! I love your sixes and am so glad you’re here. A well deserved honor. Enjoy it!

    PS: I also just subscribed to The Broad Life. Sounds like it’s right up my alley. xo

    Jen

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Jen! Thank you! I appreciate your encouragement and your comments on my Sixes. Love yours! And thank you for subscribing to TBL. Let me know if there are any subjects you want covered! We listen! Petunias united!

  • Neil Slevin
    September 1, 2017

    Congratulations, Janna! 🙂

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Thank you, Neil. I love your Sixes and your work! Really, really inspiring!

  • Jayne McKenzie
    September 1, 2017

    janna, this was SO much fun to read! you are definitely one of the positive and fun people around here 🙂 < < and this means that when your novel becomes a smash hit you are to required to continue writing sixes. i'll definitely check 'the broad life.' and last but not least, it's good to know i'm not the only procrastinator around here (get it?)
    have a great weekend!

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Jayne, thank you! I will never stop writing Sixes. They keep me sane (and help me procrastinate) and help me connect with lovely people like you! I appreciate your eyes on The Broad Life. That project has been fun and rewarding.

  • Oh_Skinny
    September 1, 2017

    That noise? My chin hitting the table! Your accomplishments are so…accomplished! And you’re not big! Congratulations, Janna. I am honored to officially make your acquaintance. This is a special day. Skinny

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Oh_Skinny, thank you for your kind words! I am so honored to be featured! I’m glad we connected here!

  • Banjodan
    September 1, 2017

    Dear Janna, I enjoyed learning more about you and you have worked hard to achieve your dreams, congrats!

    • Janna
      September 2, 2017

      Banjodan, Thank you! I really love your Sixes!

  • Neesha Hosein
    September 2, 2017

    It’s a pleasure to learn more about you! Congrats on being MOTM!

    • Janna
      September 6, 2017

      Neesha! Thank you! I’m glad that you’re okay out there in Texas. Love your Sixes, too! Keep on writing!

  • Krista
    September 4, 2017

    Janna,
    Hurray on your honor of MOTM! First, I love your Six name 🙂 Next, it was great getting to know more about you. What an accomplished individual! Looking forward to more of your thought-filled and humorous sixes!

    Krista

    • Janna
      September 6, 2017

      Thank you, Krista! I’ve been Big Mamma in my family for a long time. With all this encouragement, I will absolutely keep up the Sixes.

  • Johnbigjohn
    September 4, 2017

    Awesome!!! So deserving!

  • Loon
    September 5, 2017

    Hey, Janna,

    You sound like a real firecracker. Very deserving of becoming a MOTM. Keep on cranking out those original Sixes.

    Loon

    • Janna
      September 6, 2017

      Thank you, Loon! Some days I feel like a dud that just pffffft, but that’s life, right? And this community raises my spirits! I really enjoy YOUR Sixes!

  • DynamicDbytheC
    September 5, 2017

    Nice to meet you Janna. You are a lot smaller than your moniker. Must be the aerobics history. However, your sixes are always large. I enjoy your wit and writing. Thank you for being a member of Smithmag. I have always enjoyed your vast array of memoirs.

    • Janna
      September 6, 2017

      Thank you, DDBTC! I will not be dusting off my leg warmers any time soon. I’m so happy to be part of this community and to connect with Sixers like you!

  • Kharis
    September 6, 2017

    Hi Mumma Janna, you look a lot like the drawing that accompanies your sixes- happy and beautiful! Congratulations on being MOTM and what a wealth of talent you bring to this site- am in awe of the literary achievements of some of my fellow sixers. I love and identify with your six for the day. Best wishes for your writing career and life.

    • Janna
      September 11, 2017

      Thank you, Kharis! Best wishes to you, too! Keep writing and Sixing!

  • Ellis Reyes
    September 11, 2017

    It’s a pleasure to meet you Janna. Thank you for sharing your writing with us.

    • Janna
      September 11, 2017

      I enjoy your Sixes so much, ER! Thank YOU for sharing!

  • torturedbutterfly
    February 14, 2018

    Congratulations, BigMammaPetunia!! Loved seeing you on here!!

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