Memoirist of the Month—September 2014: Alexis (aka Wench)

The six-word setup has become so much more than a creative challenge for me…with two little boys, free time is a hot commodity. I like the ability to express myself creatively in short bursts, in between washing marker off of my wall and relinquishing my baby’s grip on my hair.”

Name: Alexis R.picone

Place: Philadelphia, PA

SMITH Member since: February 2009

Known fondly as Wench, Alexis joined Six-Word Memoirs in 2009, making this her sixth year here. Her memoirs are rich in content (“You can always take another step.“) and volume—over 2,200 to date—often complemented by compelling backstories (“Is he still in there, anymore?“). We’ve enjoyed watching her blossom and evolve, both in her photos and her memoirs (“Tonight’s goal: Tastefully turn some heads.”). Wench has used Six Words to chronicle milestones (“Two kids on a big adventure.”), riff on everyday life (“Queen of the fireball hipster pour.”), and work through hardships (“Pounding my fists on God’s chest.“). Congrats to Alexis as our Memoirist of the Month for September, which she can celebrate with a custom t-shirt thanks to our friends at Spreadshirt. See why Alexis has found an audience here as she answers our Six Questions.


How did you first hear about Six-Word Memoirs, and how does Six Words fit into your life?
In 2009, Larry Smith gave a presentation at my school on his writing project, Six-Word Memoirs. At the time, I was working on a scar photography project, with the tagline, “Every scar tells a story.” Larry started his presentation with his tagline: “Everyone has a story—what’s yours?” I was instantly hooked and I’ve been writing here ever since.

The six-word setup has become so much more than a creative challenge for me. It really forces you to understand what you want to say and get to its core. It’s caused me to reflect more thoughtfully on a lot of things I’ve gone through in my personal life. Lately, with two little boys, free time is a hot commodity. I like the ability to express myself creatively in short bursts, in between washing marker off of my wall and relinquishing my baby’s grip on my hair…

These concentrated doses of humanity have created some really close connections with people I’ve never met. There are so many members here that I have come to love and whose stories I’ve been following for months or years. I’ve also experienced some of the most humbling acts of kindness from this community. I think I may have coined the term, “Believe Hat” a few years back (“I am wearing my Believe hat“). I was feeling really overwhelmed, and I found genuine comfort and strength in a simple knit hat that a stranger made for me.

When did you start writing and what have been turning points in your creative life?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I was home-schooled, and when I was little, my mom used to cut out pictures from magazines and ask us to make up stories about them. She wrote them all down—I still have them. I wrote a 200+ page novel between the ages of 11 and 13 (I mean, it’s hilariously bad, but still…). I’ve won a few awards for poems and short stories. I play guitar (sort of) and I’ve written countless songs, but it’s up for debate whether any of them are worth listening to! When I was pregnant with my first son, I started keeping a journal to him, and I’ve continued that tradition with both of my boys. I don’t have a lot of free time, so I’m getting good at writing in bursts. One more reason to love Six-Word Memoirs—it’s fast!

Can you share a favorite Six-Word Memoir, moment or other backstory of yours on SMITH and tell us whether someone’s writing here has especially moved you?
Melted my past. Forged my future.” It’s a reminder that even when it feels like everything is falling apart, I’m constantly being shaped and strengthened for the next step. The past few years have thrown our family a lot of curve-balls. There was the loss of our second baby, which we shared with very few people—I was so grateful to have this outlet to speak about it. Also my brother’s diagnosis with schizophrenia (“Is he still in there, anymore?“) and a lot in between. Sometimes I just need to step back and remind myself that I’m still here. I must be tougher than I realized.

Which authors do you enjoy or admire, including writers on Six-Word Memoirs?
I’ve always been encouraged by the words of John Donne, in his poems, “Death, be not proud” and “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning.” But when I was writing that novel as a kid, I was obsessed with Lloyd Alexander. My mom looked him up in the phone book on my eleventh birthday and actually found him. I will never forget her calling up the stairs, “Alexis? Lloyd Alexander is on the phone for you.” I spoke with him for half an hour about my book, his writing, and his book about his childhood in Philadelphia that was coming out soon (The Gawgon and The Boy). The experience of having my ideas respected and encouraged by a brilliantly creative author at the age of eleven was so incredible. When The Gawgon and The Boy came out, my mom bought it and read me a chapter every day. Sometimes two, if I begged her.

I’ve been moved by the writing and the kindness of so many writers here. Oh no, not this question—I know I’ll forget people: Believe, DynamicDbytheC, Hieronimo, Loon, BanjoDan, ShellDeFelice, NumbrOneAunt, Amapola, Bullitt, Steve__Anthony…the Six Words editors said I had to stop at ten, sorry!!!!

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time and what do you enjoy doing?

picthreeI’ve run a one-woman photography business for the past few years. I do weddings, family portraits, the usual, but I’ve also photographed births, which is just too cool for words. Recently, I’ve picked up bartending; it’s a lot of fun meeting people and getting to know their stories.

I’m married and my full-time, favorite job is being a mama to my two sons, who are two (nearly three) and seven months (“Motherhood. Suddenly I understand slimey kisses“). We have dance recitals in our living room, every single day, with my toddler. Singin’ In The Rain is his favorite movie.

Finally, Alexis, what are your Six Words for today?
No, honey. We don’t flush sneakers.

19 Comments » for Memoirist of the Month—September 2014: Alexis (aka Wench)
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  2. DynamicDbytheC says:

    Wench, you will always be more than a memoirist to me. I considerate you a soulmate. You are a young, beautiful old soul. I enjoy your candid memoirs. You were there for me all the way through my journey. Thank you for that, for your memoirs, for your calendar, for your amazing photos and for being you. Couldn’t say any of this in six.

  3. Ellis Reyes says:

    Kudos on your very well deserved MOTM recognition. Kids are an unending wellspring of 6’er inspiration, keep ’em coming!

  4. Loon says:

    A well-deserved tribute to a wonderful mother and author

  5. notjustagirl says:

    Congratulations nice to see more of you and those adorable boys to men.

  6. Redx3 says:

    Glad to see you shining in the spotlight, Wench, right where you belong! Beautiful write up, beautiful boys, beautiful future coming your way!

  7. lovelylizard says:

    Such a special honor bestowed on a very special woman. Congratulations, Wench. Have always loved your sixes, you speak from the heart and show us your soul. P.S. The boys are precious.

  8. hieronimo says:

    congratulations! a long-belated and well-deserved honor. your’re a very talented and memorable young woman and your writing reaches impressive depths. don’t let the days and years pass without fully sussing out your gifts. make time for it, even if it’s in between Mojitos!

  9. catsmeow says:

    Shell nailed it when she mentioned talent. You are a compelling writer with tons of talent. I miss your Sixes when you’re not posting.

  10. jl333 says:

    Wow Wench! What a fab write up about you. Glad to know more about you. I’ve always enjoyed all of your sixes…and I especially enjoy your photography! Will you be doing another SMITH calendar this year? Simply put, you’re amazing! Cheers. –JL

  11. ADHDean says:

    So glad to see you featured, Wench! Thank you for sharing your life with us, even when your experiences are frightening or heartrending. It’s been amazing to see you evolve over the past years. Keep up the good work!

  12. thelotlessmonster says:

    It’s so interesting to see past the six words. Good luck with everything.

  13. Lillybrook says:

    Wench – you are such a constant talent and community builder on the site. Good to learn more about you!

  14. Solstice22 says:

    Congratulations! My most favorite of your sixes was “I’m so crafty, I make people” That is from memory, so please excuse if not quite right wording. You are so beautiful and talented and I hope you know that in the deepest part of your heart. Best to you, always.

  15. Shelldefelice says:

    And you are a photographer?!! Amazingly talented beautiful girl who inspires me with her insight as a Mom, Sister and Daughter. I look forward to your sixes and eat up the pictures of your beautiful little men. xoxoxoxox

  16. JAD says:

    Congrats! Wench, feel like I know you personally, we’ve been with six words for so long. Love your relationship with your boys ;such a wonderful mom.

  17. Wench says:

    Canadafreeze!! How could I forget you? You are one of the loveliest, most creative, thoughtful voices on this site!

  18. BanjoDan says:

    I am so glad I got to learn more about you! I wish you and your beloved family the best and many thanks for sharing your memoirs with us.

  19. canadafreeze says:

    Congratulations, Wench! You were one of the first writers I followed when I discovered SWM. I’ve loved watching your life unfold with your adorable family. A most deserving feature.

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