According to Louise deSalvo, writing in her excellent Writingalife's Blog:
“Fear of failure? Failure of nerves? I don’t think it’s either, and I think it’s easy for people who haven’t faced a situation like this to pathologize something that’s simply a normal part of the process.
Maybe this agency won’t take this work. That’s possible. That’s life. That doesn’t mean that the work isn’t ready; it means that that agency didn’t take the work. To rewrite at this stage would mean that this writer is using rewriting to deal with her anxiety. What needs to happen here is that this writer has to deal with her anxiety, and not use her work to deal with her anxiety. Many of us do that: judge a work is ready, then retreat, then rewrite. All to deal with the anxiety of letting it go, passing it on to judgment.
In this publishing climate, it might be a long and bumpy ride before this particular work finds a publisher. That this writer recommends it might not assure that this agent will take it on, that a press will take it on. Still, that doesn’t mean that the answer is to hold it close, rewrite it, hoping that the next rewrite will be the one about which you won’t have anxiety.
In June 2010, Tobias Wong, a designer troubled by night terrors and sleep walking, hung himself. Writer Kathleen Frazier was deeply shaken. For twenty years, she too suffered from sleep walking and night terrors. One night, Frazier awoke to find herself beside a seventh-story window. She began a recovery process that liberated her from this disabling and dangerous parasomnia that effects two to three percent of adults.
Frazier, reading from her memoir-in-progress in January, 2011 at Cornelia Cafe in New York, said she vowed to write about her malady and recovery so others know they can be healed.
Motives for memoir can be complex. Some, like Frazier, share their own story so others need not suffer alone. Speaking with the same humor with which she writes, memoir writer Mary Karr said she wrote because she had no other choice. "What else was I going to be [besides a writer]," she asked. "A titty dancer?"
Karr spoke at the New Yorker Festival’s “The Parent Trap: Philip Gourevitch with Mary Karr and Tobias Wolff,” on October 1, 2010 in New York. Yet she too offers a message of hope. For me, reading Lit was like going through alcoholism recovery with Harvard professors as one's guides.
Tobias Wolff said that writing This Boy’s Life, a memoir of his childhood in Newhalem and Concrete, Washington, provided “a tremendous lift, like you’re being born aloft.”