Unfinished Projects

During the past half-century (has it really been that long?) I have enjoyed creating so many kinds of craft projects: sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, cross-stitch, candle-making, macramé, creating and selling children’s Quiet Time Books to teach fine motor skills such as buttoning, zippering, connecting Velcro, and more. Today, knitting and quilting are the two I still give much time to and, as with most crafters, you may not be surprised to hear that I have a few uncompleted projects tucked away. Last September I wrote about one of those projects in my Rising from Dark Places post.

Toward the end of last year, I knew I would not put up my artificial Christmas tree, so I pulled out a Christmas tree wall hanging I’d started more than five years ago. I’d found the pattern in a 1995 book by Debbie Munn: Quick Country Christmas Quilts. The tree was simple and, aside from the quilted hanging, it gave instructions for several small ornaments to hang on the buttons of the branches. Their creation was, for me, nothing short of a child’s delight in play.

Now, several days into this new year, the tree still hangs on the wall, swelling my heart with much pleasure whenever I look at it. Perhaps that’s, in part, because I’ve always loved the simplistic pattern. More, it’s also that I finally completed it. It’s so true, is it not? Good things often take more time than we might think.

That thought led me to ponder my memoir, a project I’ve worked at off and on for more than a decade. I completed the full draft and some revisions mid-last year, then sent it to an editor who gave me wonderful feedback (she liked it!) and revision suggestions. Just as I was digging in to revise, life intervened and I shelved the story again. For three months the large apricot colored binder with its thick manuscript quietly rested on my desk. It often reminded me of the bread dough that regularly and silently rises on my kitchen counter. After the right amount of time, the dough transforms beneath the towel that covers it and is ready to transform into its final product.

Within me, a similar process has been going on these recent months, as well. The story is nearly always present in my heart. During the months I have rested from it, the wonderful internal process of writing has brought an abundance of new ideas for content and structure, and I’ve jotted each down. I’m ready now to start what will be my final revision before I seek a publisher (or decide to self publish.) Today I will open the manuscript again to weave the new ideas into the present fabric of words.

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Good things can often take more time than we might think. And sometimes that’s perfectly okay.


About Mary Jo Doig

At the turn of the millennium, I arrived at a cross-road that brought me to a splendid, if unforeseen place, almost as if I were a traveler on Robert Frost's The Road Less Traveled. I was single again, my three children were grown and building their lives, I'd experienced a health issue and was working on an improved lifestyle. I also ached to do two other things: (1) change my long human services career in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains, where winter seemed to be at least seven months out of every year, and (2) move to a warmer place in the universe. My decision: did I want to continue on the path I'd been following pretty much all my life, or could I gather my then-fragile courage and start life brand new somewhere else? These were scary thoughts for a single woman in her late 50s. Five hundred miles away, though, I fell in love with a new mountain range, Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, where I knew not a soul except my daughter who was attending college in the Shenandoah Valley, and I moved. I rented a tiny cabin on a mountain in the woods and lived there in solitude for two years, working in a new career by day and, when home, communing with the incredible natural beauty that surrounded me. There I also began to write my life stories, which were aching for release. I joined the Story Circle Network in early 2001, a rich place in cyberspace for women life writers, where I strengthened my written voice and began sharing my stories. I found so many opportunities to grow: 10 year facilitator for an online writing circle of women writers across the country; thirteen year editor of the "True Words from Real Women" section of the quarterly Journal; a reader and reviewer of women's memoirs for the SCN Book Review site; program chair for two Stories from the Heart national conferences in Austin, T. Presently I'm teaching Women's Life-Writing and Older Women's Legacy workshops in my part of the world in Central Virginia and facilitating the ongoing Circle of Memories Writing Circle (formerly an OWL workshop that continued on) at the Crozet Public Library. I am blessed with three wonderful children, a son and two daughters; a small, huge-hearted family; dear friends; my beagle Addie and cat Button. My hobbies include reading, writing, editing, cooking, gardening, quilting, knitting, biking, and simply being with the profound beauty of the mountains that embrace my small two acres in the Blue Ridge. The life stories I began writing in 2001 have grown deeper with time, re-writes, and personal growth. All these years later, I'm scheduled to publish my memoir, Stitching a Patchwork Life, in 2018.
This entry was posted in Change, Family, Gratitude, Quilts, The Writing Life. Bookmark the permalink.

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