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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.
This book is so much more than a simple feat hiking the PCT but a woman's journey to personal enlightenment. A journey every woman must take in her own way.Published 6 minutes ago by L. Johnston
I was hoping for something more. After hearing from others that they passed around this book and everyone enjoyed it. It got to be long and had no climax.Published 33 minutes ago by Sean P. Lawler
Beautifully written south detail and you feel you are with the author as she explains her thoughts, feelings and personal insights to her life.Published 52 minutes ago by pam souza
Appreciated the personal journey of Cheryl and the courage it took to hike the Pacific Trail. The depth of reflection was at times somehat disappointing.Published 1 hour ago by Gwen Spencer
The idea for this (non?) fiction book is interesting but it just doesn't live up to its expectations. Like many reviewers here, I question the authenticity of it. Read morePublished 3 hours ago by Social Media Convert
The book was suggested as one to be read by our book club. Upon starting the book Cheryl seemed like a strange type of girl who did things that a normal person would not do. Read morePublished 5 hours ago by Joan Mall
I found this book interesting yet a bit tedious and depressing. It could be that I'm not a hiker, haven't lost my mom or maybe because I could find no parallel to the... Read morePublished 5 hours ago by rwilli