A Letter to Myself and a Commitment to Myself and My Memoir

~A Letter to Myself and a Commitment to Myself and My Memoir~

Hi! Remember me?

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. What’s sad is that I actually have written blog posts that I don’t feel are worthy of sharing. As you’ll read below, I had no idea when I started how much of writing is mental work. It was even hard to just convince myself that I was a writer.

This morning, I changed my job on my Facebook profile to: Writer, Editor, and Writing Community Leader. It feels good to proclaim that, to make it more real, because it is real — even if I don’t really get paid much for it.

I haven’t even written about getting my Certificate of Writing from the University of Iowa, or the certification at the Proofreading Academy, or how I co-lead the local chapter of Shut Up & Write, or that I have a writing podcast, or that I created my very own writing group: Memoir Mentors!

Old Christina would have agonized over needing to write a bunch about all that before I could publish this post, but screw it. No time like the present. No more worrying about perfectionism. I’m slowly saying goodbye to Old Christina and hello to the new.

They say 50 is the new 30

So, here we go!

What follows is a letter I wrote yesterday. It was the first assignment for the Write Your Memoir in Six Months Class.


A Letter to Myself

Dear Christina,

Today, you are writing about why you started writing, your aspirations, and what you hope to accomplish in the next six months.

Let’s start with why you began writing. Though you had never considered yourself a writer and had no aspirations to be one, life kept handing you stories that begged to be told. You’re not really one to believe in woo-woo stuff (leave that to your mom), but at some point, it really did seem obvious that the universe was pushing you in the direction to write.

When you went on two dates in two weeks with two guys named Kevin who both told you that they looked good in a dress, there was really no denying it. So you decided to listen—to your dates and to the universe—and started taking notes that might someday become a book.

However, since making that decision, you have discovered that writing, for you at least, is so much more than listening and taking notes. It’s a goddam mental roller coaster. Sometimes, you believe in yourself and believe that what you’ve written is pretty darn good. A week later, you’re wondering why you even bother because your writing is crap that no one would want to read, and if they did, they’d find out what a terrible, shallow person you are. Three weeks later, you’re feeling okay again. Rinse and repeat.

Sometimes, the writing process is enjoyable, but often, it’s something more like working out—painful, hard to start, and something you endure just to feel better when it’s done. And even then, you never feel entirely satisfied with the results.

You are very hard on yourself. You used to think this was an asset, that it would somehow make you achieve more if you were always telling yourself that the quality and quantity weren’t enough. A class with the lovely Charlie Haynes helped you see that beating yourself up is a creativity killer and that perfectionism is the murderer of flow and fun.

You are trying to be kinder to yourself, but it is easy to fall into old habits—we all do it. And when this happens, it’s easier to just work on something (ANYTHING) other than your memoir—the thing causing you so much angst. It’s normal to avoid pain. I get it. Ask anyone. In fact, ask the writers in your community.

One amazing thing that has happened along your writing journey is that you have found the belonging and community you so desperately sought! At first, you felt like an imposter, convinced that the writers in the groups you joined would surely laugh at you. But they didn’t. As you got to know them, it turned out that many of them felt just as insecure about their talents as you. They faced the same struggles and fears. The individuals and that world became dear to you, and you longed to be more involved and nourish that world and, by proxy, yourself.

But you didn’t know how. You never saw yourself as a writer or a leader, so at first, it was scary, but you started helping out with the local writing group when the leaders weren’t available. Somewhere along the way, you realized that you had a talent to help other writers feel safe and believe in themselves. You even started offering some classes on the inner critic and on writing. Then, during the pandemic, something happened that you never would have imagined—you began your own writing community for memoirists!

My community 💚

So Christina, please take a moment to reflect on how far you’ve come. Almost every week, at least one person in your community expresses gratitude for what you’ve created. Even if you were never to finish your book, the friendships you’ve forged and the confidence you have built through these experiences would make it all worthwhile. A thousand times over!

BUT! As one person in your community has pointed out more than once, you would have more credibility (both to the writing world and to yourself) if you finished your book. You know that’s not the best motivation to write, and neither is finishing the damn book because you said you would, but it is important.

On good days, you believe in the quality of your writing and think it could actually be a book that could inspire others or at least make them laugh.

And you WILL finish! It’s okay that it’s taken you this long to write. The next book (and there will be another) will surely be faster, but even if it isn’t. Who cares? That just means more time with your soul-nourishing community.

You made the biggest progress on your memoir when you were taking classes at the University of Iowa. The mentorship you received there was absolutely invaluable. So it was disappointing (okay, soul-crushing) when your mentor basically ghosted you after it was over, but that doesn’t diminish what you accomplished during that time.

You learned from that experience how motivating external deadlines are, particularly ones you pay for. Knowing this, you have had “find a mentor” on your to-do list for months.

So here we go again with the woo-woo, but when you searched for “mentor for memoirists,” it felt like a sign from the universe that you found a class starting the following day. (By the way, kudos to you that your Memoir Mentors group came up as the first Google result.) And, when you saw that one of the people giving the class was none other than Brooke Warner, a writer who gave talks you have shared with your group multiple times, how could you not be excited?

Six months from now, by the end of this class, you will have a completed manuscript. The weekly goals will keep you on track, and the classes will help you make this book SHINE. Plus, you’ll make great connections in the class! And! You’ll be able to share your enthusiasm and skills with your own memoir group and help them green-light their own memoirs!

So, Christina, buckle up and enjoy the ride. You’ve got this!

Sincerely,
Your future self

Thanks for reading!

My community is entirely funded by my personal funds and donations of members or people like you. You can read more about my community here, or you can click on this PayPal link :

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  • Alan O’Hashi

    July 4, 2024 at 8:51 pm
    Reply

    There’s nothing wrong with having an affinity for the dark side of writing - the business side. For right brainers, the writing is the easiest […] Read MoreThere’s nothing wrong with having an affinity for the dark side of writing - the business side. For right brainers, the writing is the easiest part, but the business part is the bane of a creative person’s existence. When you finish your memoir in December, that will add street cred to your business acumen. I hope you are using your dating anecdotes. No sense reinventing the printing press! Read Less

  • […] Here’s my letter to myself […]

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About Me

Hi, I'm Christina. I love travel, cats, gardens, house sitting, birds, painting, dogs, museums, good food & drink, you know - all the good stuff! I've been working on my first memoir, Magicians, Cross Dressers and My Uterus while living my second!

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