DIY Therapy, aka Writing Memoir

My first crocheted hat

It’s amazing what you find out about yourself when you write memoir.  Some of it not so good.

One of the things I’ve been discovering, or rather running up against, again, is my propensity to not finish things.  Especially big things, like crocheting an afghan (as opposed to the hat that only took a couple of hours).

I have dusty-rose and denim blue colored afghan somewhere,  in a box in the garage or in my office closet, half finished.

There’s really no point now–

the colors, chosen some 15 years ago, no longer
match my bedroom, nor
my family room,
my office.

And there’s the paintings with–
no frames, broken necklaces
never restrung
the pants  not hemmed.

My closet, full of possibilities.

Then there are the not so tangible things like a bilingual teaching credential, a certificate in computer programming, a journalism career…

I can justify not finishing these things by telling myself  I never really wanted them in the first place, that if it were something I really wanted, I would have made it a priority, I could have made it a success.


After reading the 200 page messy draft I sent him, my advisor busted me, called me out. In a nice way, but still.  He tells me the truth. It’s why I wanted to work with him.

“One thing I noticed,” Greg said, “is that you get started on what I’ll call ‘long stories’ and they just sort of trail off. I’ll turn the page and we’ll go from that trip to Hawaii to baking banana bread. And I don’t know where we are.”

At first I tried to justify this.  “Well I told you it was a messy draft.” and “Yeah. I haven’t even looked at that section since I first wrote it four years ago.”

But the truth is, I don’t know if I know how to finish things.  And I am afraid. Afraid that I can’t do it, and maybe most of all, afraid of what else I’ll discover about myself if I do.


2 thoughts on “DIY Therapy, aka Writing Memoir

  1. It is a world full of distractions and I feel much the same way as you. I have the $5 silk shirt score from thrift store sitting in my closet for 2 years because the button is loose and I don’t want to wear it until I fix it so I don’t lose the button.


  2. I feel like I used to have the same problem (and sometimes still do). I think what I tried to do was to fetishize finishing things rather than the finished thing. (Therefore lowering the fear factor, since what mattered wasn’t so much what I wrote, just that I finished it. This has not been such a great tool for revision.)


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