“I really have to work at ‘packaging’ intimate thoughts and feelings so that they can be shared with a larger audience. Writing sixes has allowed me to do a bit more of that … sort of six-word baby steps toward wider communication.”
Name: Barbara Quintiliano
Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
SMITH Member Since: March 2013
Whether Barbara Quintiliano is talking about freedom of expression or freedom from anxiety, liberty is at the heart of her thoughts—and her profile name: liberata. Spirituality and philosophy (“New spiritual diet: giving up guilt” and “Act of faith: believing in yourself”) are common themes in Barbara’s memoirs. But it’s her love of music and movement (“Pitbull, Puccini… so I like variety!”) that earn her the unofficial title of resident Zumba ambassador (“Danced away the blues at Zumba”). Congratulations to Barbara Quintiliano as our Memoirist of the Month for March 2016 — the same month she celebrates her third anniversary with Six Words. As Barbara answers our Six Questions, you’ll understand how she quickly came into the fold here:
How did you first hear about Six-Word Memoirs?
I really don’t remember! But now I check the site almost every morning, right after checking my email, and I visit several times during the day and evening. I’m definitely addicted to reading Six-Word Memoirs! Lately I’ve been adding six-word backstories to my memoirs. I think someone called them “after sixes.” Only occasionally have I written more extensive backstories. I sometimes add images and I often include links to YouTube music that I enjoy.
I’ve exchanged messages with a few memoirists and will be very happy when that feature is working again. Posting comments is a lot of fun too…almost as much fun as reading comments others leave for me.
When did you start writing and what have been turning points in your creative life?
I’ve been mostly a journal writer and pen pal all my life — with the advent of email, I’m a cyberpal, too. I’m most comfortable writing to a single reader or to myself. I really have to work at “packaging” intimate thoughts and feelings so that they can be shared with a larger audience. Writing sixes has allowed me to do a bit more of that…sort of six-word baby steps toward wider communication. Other than that, I write a bit of poetry now and then. I started a blog about ten years ago, although I haven’t done much posting the last couple of years. My blog posts tend to chronicle my human rights activities and spiritual reflections.
Now that you’ve prompted me to think about it, I’ve had some very sharp linguistic turning points in my writing life. During those periods when I was intensely reading and studying French, I wrote my personal journals exclusively in French. Once I completed my master’s, I moved on to other interests and my journaling naturally returned to English.
Which authors do you enjoy or admire, including writers on Six-Word Memoirs?
Oh, so many. Usually whatever author I’m reading at the moment is my favorite creative writer. I also enjoy reading books of a more spiritual nature: feminist theology, Quakerism, Gospel scholarship, peace and justice issues.
On Six Words, standouts include Silken, Solstice, ADHDean (for his Random Word of the Day challenges), Loon and BanjoDan (what humor!), jl333 (who makes me appreciate the everyday, ordinary wonders), and many others who have left me encouraging comments.
Can you share a favorite Six-Word Memoir, or other story of yours on SMITH and tell us why it’s meaningful to you?
“60 years living inside my head.” That’s me in a (nut)shell. Trying to emerge, trying to get out of myself and find connection with others. There’s a poem, written by the French author Andrée Chedid. The title, “La femme des longues patiences,” means, roughly translated: “The long-patient woman. It’s about women growing, evolving…ever so slowly and ever focused, never losing patience.” That’s me.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time and what do you enjoy doing?
I live in a suburb of Philadelphia, where I’m a research librarian at a university and really enjoy working with college students. I’m married and have two sons (“Two sons: deep spirit, free spirit.”). First and foremost, I enjoy going to Zumba class (even reading might take a back seat!), walking, getting together with friends, listening to music, especially classical music and opera. Zumba is my lifeline to today’s music — my son was really impressed that I knew Pitbull! I’m also passionate about human rights and have been a member of a local Amnesty International group for ten or more years. Currently I’m taking a turn at coordinator.
Finally, Barbara Quintiliano, what are your Six Words for today?
“Think I’ve finally found my genre.”