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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.
Cheryl is a riot. She is open and raw and a very good writer, I feel like we're friends after reading this.Published 25 minutes ago by Charlene Ruffner
Not sure why...but I was left still longing for something. It didn't have the "depth" I was craving. Overall a good read, interesting.Published 2 hours ago by Katy Ward
I did not like the beginning of this book and did not like the author. I started liking her towards the end of the story as she was able to identify her feelings more... Read morePublished 2 hours ago by Susan Cebelinski
Living a mile from the PCT the women's story was very interesting on how she handled her trip. This is not a glamorous trek but very well told.Published 4 hours ago by P. Bittenbender
Believe it or not I learned of this book through a Costco magazine and was intrigued by its description so I downloaded it on my Kindle. Read morePublished 4 hours ago by Parakeet
I backpack as a section hiker for roughly one week a year. What I've learned backpacking is that the trail doesn't give up its beauty easily. Read morePublished 5 hours ago by Chief Mumbo
I wasn't sure I could read about someone hiking for an entire book. And I kept thinking the ending would be very different. I was surprised how quickly I read it. Read morePublished 5 hours ago by Colin Kelly