My Obsessions

“Most of us have ongoing obsessions, sometimes as a result of difficult, tragic, magical, or unexpected events or circumstances in our lives. Sometimes these are the things we studiously avoid in writing about, but sooner or later we come to realize they are our bedrock material. The fact is that writing, like any creative undertaking, carries with it both pain and great joy. The pain is often inherent in the most fertile subject matter; the joy lies in transforming that subject matter and thus moving through it in a way that helps us grow while we create something of value to others.”

–Judith Barrington, Writing the Memoir

Make a list of your current obsessions. Make a second list of the obsessions you had ten years ago. Make a third list of the obsessions you had twenty years ago. Look at the similarities and differences between your lists.

Now choose one of your current obsessions. In twenty minutes, without stopping, tell me everything you can about that obsession.


  1. Tempered Ashes says

    I like to win. Winning to me is like breathing. If i’m not winning, i’m losing. And losing is bad! So you see, winning to me is key. I need to win to exist.

    now I like to lose. Losing sucks! Losing makes you feel like a loos-er.

    now i’m trying to incorporate the two: winning, losing, everything in between…

    and that’s why i’m not exactly sure what to do with myself. . . You see, the point of this whole “game” is to expand myself. I came onto this planet not really knowing who I was. I used all of “my powers” to incorporate humanity into my soul. (I see that others around me–particularly in the Bay area–seem to be doing the same). We came to this earth to live (not to win). And somehow I think I’ve lost hold of that…

    I actually feel pretty sad that I’ve spent pretty much my entire life trying to win, and oftentimes doing so–at least on the outside. Meanwhile on the inside I’ve been crying out in pain. Each extra diploma, trophy, and certificate did nothing except add additional layers which now need to be peeled away in order for me to get in touch with–well, me.
    (I used to go up against the guys and smear them. I used to make people who I thought were “bad” feel 2 inches tall. I used to slaughter (and still do) anyone who tries to take advantage of the poor, the weak, the sick. I used to justify all of my actions by saying that I believe in my “causes” and am fighting for the “right” side.)

    All the while perhaps the person I was fighting most was myself. Little ol’ 5 foot tall me. I think I’m really pissed at myself–and all the people around me. I think I’m crying out in pain in a way that even I can’t fully comprehend. I used to believe in things. Now I really don’t.. (now i’m a lost little puppy just looking for some food..)

    wow, growth is hard(!)
    but maybe if i’m lucky, just maybe, I’ll never have to “win” again.

    • Ilana says

      Wow. That was courageous of you. I, personally, did not even have the strength to respond to this prompt. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. Jessica says

    my obsessions

    6 years old
    my brother
    my sister
    my blanket
    making sure I was o.k.

    16 years old
    dance class
    being pretty
    being good at things
    figuring out where I fit

    26 years old
    my partner
    my dogs
    our home
    being independent
    my kiddos at work
    being effective
    my past
    making sure I am o.k.

    my past is my puzzle…my obsession. all the pieces are blank so it makes you crazy if you try to figure out how they fit together. it makes you crazy if you just stand there staring at it. move one piece here….turn a piece upside down. maybe when you find two pieces that fit together some of the picture will start to make sense. first fit the pieces together, then see the picture. first remember the facts, then try to make sense of them. nothing fits together. these pieces are all wrong. the edges are jagged. irregular. you’ll have to cut some – or tear some – to make it fit. those round edges just won’t work here. it won’t fit. you don’t fit. try to make it work – try to change your shape – make yourself crazy. try to put it together by tearing yourself apart.

  3. Fran Stekoll says

    My obsessions spending more money than there is at the end of each month.
    Feeling my fist dog Roy lick my cheek
    sliding down the coal shute after locking myself out of the house with a cold in
    a blizzard on 96 Colby Street, Rochester N.Y.
    Getting caught smoking Daddy’s peddlers pipe and saying the dog did it.
    Daddy announcing Frances Ann just got her first bra-hiding behind the couch.
    I’m obsessed with my Grandson playing on the Offensive Line for the Buffalo Bills.
    Lox, Bagels and Cream Cheese- Cheese Cake-Weight Watchers- eating
    more than exercising.
    Antiques e-mails-blogs-The Delf-Wisdom Bumps
    Sea Harvest Restaurant-Elkhorn Slough Safari- My 10 grand children-
    living every day as if it’s my last.
    trying to lose weight but not tracking my points
    My two dogs and cats
    Feeding the goldfinches
    Losing my husband too soon
    Writing a winning story to share with the world
    helping everyone in every way to make sure they have a better day
    baking and cooking and giving it all away

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