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I wrote the last line of my first book, Torch, and then spent an hour crying while lying on a cool tile floor in a house on a hot Brazilian island. After I finished my second book, Wild, I walked alone for miles under a clear blue sky on an empty road in the Oregon Outback. I sat bundled in my coat on a cold patio at midnight staring up at the endless December stars after completing my third book, Tiny Beautiful Things. There are only a handful of other days in my life--my wedding, the births of my children--that I remember as vividly as those solitary days on which I finished my books. The settings and situations were different, but the feeling was the same: an overwhelming mix of joy and gratitude, humility and relief, pride and wonder. After much labor, I'd made this thing. A book. Though it wasn't technically that yet.
The real book came later--after more work, but this time it involved various others, including agents, publishers, editors, designers, and publicists, all of whose jobs are necessary but sometimes indecipherable to me. They're the ones who transformed the thousands of words I'd privately and carefully conjured into something that could be shared with other people. "I wrote this!" I exclaimed in amazement when I first held each actual, physical book in my hands. I wasn't amazed that it existed; I was amazed by what its existence meant: that it no longer belonged to me.
Two months before Wild was published I stood on a Mexican beach at sunset with my family assisting dozens of baby turtles on their stumbling journey across the sand, then watching as they disappeared into the sea. The junction between writer and author is a bit like that. In one role total vigilance is necessary; in the other, there's nothing to do but hope for the best. A book, like those newborn turtles, will ride whatever wave takes it.
It's deeply rewarding to me when I learn that something I wrote moved or inspired or entertained someone; and it's crushing to hear that my writing bored or annoyed or enraged another. But an author has to stand back from both the praise and the criticism once a book is out in the world. The story I chose to write in Wild for no other reason than I felt driven to belongs to those who read it, not me. And yet I'll never forget what it once was, long before I could even imagine how gloriously it would someday be swept away from me.
A great read from Cheryl Strayed that tells of her solo journey of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
What a beautiful and powerful story written so adeptly you'd think the author had been writing for years.
Felt like I was on the journey too, made me really think about my own life and how I am living it.
I simply love how Cheryl could make me cry my eyes out and 30 minutes later have me laughing hysterically.
Thank you for the journey. Read more
I almost didn't read this because it was an Oprah pick. Seriously! I may be in the minority, but I don't want to read books that have Oprah's stamp of approval. Read morePublished 59 minutes ago by JDHB
A very good read. I kept wanting to know when she was going to lighten her pack and I was wondering how she managed to hike without books, Incredible that she made the hike.Published 1 hour ago by Paul A. Robbins
I got caught up in this character's life story and its highs and lows... I usually take forever to read books but this I read in 3 days. Read morePublished 2 hours ago by Jessica Doleshel
You feel the author's experiences as if you're walking with her. All the raw emotions and the physical demands. Just breathtaking.Published 2 hours ago by Elena Cooke
Love this book and did not want it to end expect I wanted her to get home and out of her boots.Published 2 hours ago by Violet J. Harris
The read did not give enough info on the trail itself.Published 3 hours ago by Elizabeth Mendenhall
I originally read this book so I could go see the movie. I always find that the book is better than the movie. Read morePublished 3 hours ago by Robbie Miller