Saturday, December 8, 2012


 Dread of writing The Orchard was a cloud that hung over my head for fifteen years.  I knew I had to write it, but I kept putting it off. I didn't want to go through it, revisit it, but I felt a certain duty to tell the story since I'd lived it and I was a writer. I felt an obligation to document farming culture in an anthropological way. But I didn't want to write it. I suppose I could say it was on my bucket list if the bucket list contained things I didn't really want to do.  But now that all of my appearances and talks and events are over (except for two in April of next year), I've been rewarded with something unexpected.


I was never after closure. I never considered closure, and I've never heard memoir writers mention it. Some people have asked if writing The Orchard was cathartic, and I have to say not in the least. Quite the opposite. It was horrible and it was torture and it was awful in every way. And once it was published, I had to go around and talk about it. More torture.  I can now admit that while making public appearances I often regretted writing the book because I had to keep reliving it at each event.  I was like a cutter who traveled place to place and cut myself in front of an audience. Oh, that's so melodramatic.

But now... NOW, it's like a door has slammed on that old world. It's over over over for me. I did my job. I no longer have to remember and hold it in my head because I've written it down. I no longer have it looming before me, this book I have to write, this life I have to revisit.  This duty. I never expected to get anything out of writing it, nothing for myself, so the closure has been such a surprise.  Right now I'm wondering if closure ever uncloses. I suppose it does, and I still have those two gigs next year, but I don't know... I feel that it's truly behind me.



  1. I think it's awesome that doing what you felt was your duty had a beneficial effect for you.

  2. It took a while for me to realize it, but when I did... so nice.

  3. Theresa,

    You did a tremendous job with THE ORCHARD. It was and is quite an accomplishment (in several ways). It was a story that needed telling, and you did it justice.

    I have a story I've been destined to tell as well, and the writing of it began ten years ago (while I was still "living" it ~ and in some respects, I still am and always will be), and as you know, the passage of time is needed to gain insight, perspective, etc.), so I fully understand the 'cloud hanging over one's head' thing, and when fate assigns you to tell it. There are complications involving the story that are beyond me, and keeps dragging it on. But I will never lose the passion and determination I have to tell my story ~ no matter how long it takes!

    Congratulations on achieving a more comfortable feeling about the whole experience, after suffering with and through it, and for so long. It sounds like you have a good handle on it! As difficult as it can be regarding the nature of your story, be absolutely proud of your achievements and your valuable contribution to society.

    1. kathleen, thank you so much for your lovely and supportive words. and i can tell you really related to what i posted. i hope the complications and obstacles you've encountered eventually get the hell out of the way ;) so you can finish your story, but i totally get how memoir is often impacted by things beyond our control.


  4. Hi Theresa,
    Doing research for your book for a book discussion I'm leading on "The Orchard" for SDSU Osher Institute tomorrow morning, and so pleased I found this page. I'd invited you through our mutual friend Susan McBeth to discuss the book via Skype, and she very politely declined for you. She told you I would completely understand, and now, reading this post, I do.
    Thanks for a terrific work, and congratulations on the closure.

    1. Hi Kathi,
      I was thrilled to hear that you will be discussing The Orchard!! And I'm so glad you understand. I feel guilty about my decision to quit speaking about The Orchard at events, etc, but I truly love that people are still embracing the book, and I hope it will continue to have a life without me. :)