Cheryl Strayed, THIS TELLING

Cheryl Strayed, THIS TELLING

In this special weekend re-release, Zibby records an Instagram Live with Cheryl Strayed, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wild (which was made into an Oscar-nominated film), Tiny Beautiful Things (which is now a Hulu TV show), and This Telling (the Amazon Original Story they talk about in this episode!). This Telling is part of an incisive collection of funny, enraging, and hopeful stories of women’s empowerment and escape.

Zibby: “I was over the moon to be interviewing her. I have been a fan for so long. You can probably tell in my fandom, adulation, and all the rest when I talk to her. I hope I did an okay job. I was stuttering.”


Zibby Owens: This is a recording of the Instagram Live that I did with Cheryl Strayed. I was over the moon to be interviewing her. I have been a fan for so long. You can probably tell in my fandom, adulation, and all the rest when I talk to her. I hope I did an okay job. I was stuttering. I was a little bit nervous, actually, because I’m such a fan. Anyway, Cheryl Strayed is the author of the number-one New York Times best-selling memoir Wild, the New York Times best sellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough, and the novel Torch. Wild was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Her books have been translated into nearly forty languages around the world and have been adapted for both the screen and the stage. The Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of Wild stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as Cheryl’s mother, Bobbi. Tiny Beautiful Things was adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos who also starred in the role of Sugar/Cheryl. By the way, that’s who was in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The play was directed by Thomas Kail and debuted at The Public Theater in New York City. Cheryl is the host of the New York Times hit podcast, “Sugar Calling,” and also “Dear Sugars” which she co-hosted with Steve Almond. Her essays have been published in The Best American Essays, The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Sun, Tin House, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Portland, Oregon. I spoke to Cheryl on our Instagram Live about her new story called This Telling which is an Amazon Original Story, kind of a mini-novella. She calls it a long story. Anyway, that’s what we talked about. It’s really great. It just came out.

Cheryl Strayed: Hi. Zibby, hi. How are you?

Zibby: I’m good. How are you?

Cheryl: Oh, my gosh, it’s so nice to see you.

Zibby: It’s so nice to see you too. I am so excited to be talking to you. You’re such a hero of mine. Thank you for doing this.

Cheryl: Thank you. I think you’re pretty awesome yourself. I just heard you say that you’re a memoir addict. I love memoir addicts. I’m one too.

Zibby: We could talk about these all day. Have you read a good one lately? Should we chat memoirs?

Cheryl: Oh, gosh.

Zibby: I know. There’s so many, right?

Cheryl: Yeah. The minute people ask me that question, my mind goes blank. I can tell you a couple of amazing books I’ve read. The Undocumented Americans, are you familiar with this book?

Zibby: I’m not.

Cheryl: Karla Cornejo Villa — I should’ve written down her name.

Zibby: It’s okay. I caught you unaware.

Cheryl: The Undocumented Americans, really a stunning, amazing book. I love Motherland by Elissa Altman.

Zibby: Me too.

Cheryl: Did you love that?

Zibby: Love it. Love her. Such a huge fan.

Cheryl: Me too. Also, I’m almost done reading Caste by Elizabeth Wilkerson, which is not a memoir. She writes about aspects of her life. Wow, have you read that book yet?

Zibby: It’s on my shelf. I have it. I just have not gotten there yet, but I’m getting to it.

Cheryl: I feel like everyone in America should read Caste.

Zibby: Yes. My mother was like, “You have to read this book.” If nothing else, I’m going to read it for her.

Cheryl: That’s great. Do you have a child behind you? I’m going to put on my glasses so I can see this.

Zibby: Oh, gosh. Thank you for telling me.

Cheryl: There was a little urchin popping up.

Zibby: Guys, get out. Thank you. Sorry. It’s five o’clock on a school night. I’m very sorry. This is what happens.

Cheryl: Oh, no worries. I have two teenagers. I don’t think they’re going to pop up, but you never know.

Zibby: You never know. Let’s talk about your latest which I listened to in the car the other morning with my husband and my sister-in-law and everybody. We just loved it, This Telling, part of the Out of Line series which are all about women on the verge of a breakthrough. You’re in such good company with Roxane Gay and Emma Donoghue and all these great women authors writing about feminist stuff. For those people on the Instagram Live who haven’t read it or don’t even know about it that much yet, can you please tell us a little more about the story?

Cheryl: I was approached by and the editors there to write a piece of feminist fiction, a short story. They basically said, whatever you want to do, just make sure it’s feminist. Of course, I thought, well, that’s everything I write. I am a feminist. It’s part of all of my work. When I started to think about what I was going to write about, what kept emerging is this story that I have been wanting to tell and trying to tell in one form or another for actually many years. It’s rooted in a piece of my own personal history. It’s one of those scenarios where I’ve always thought, what if it went the other way? It’s this. When my mom was in her teens in the 1960s, she became pregnant. She was not married. She got pregnant. Because abortion was illegal then and, as we know, there was a lot of social censure against women having babies without men, she was basically forced to marry my dad. That’s why my parents got married. My mom was pregnant with my sister. She had me and my brother and sister. Onward she went.

When I was a teenager and really asking my mom about her life, she told me this story about the choice that she had, which was really no choice at all. Those of you who are familiar with my other work know that my parents’ marriage was a terrible one. My father was abusive to her. It was a very hard thing to endure. The little creative writer in me really reflected upon the impact that that kind of lack of reproductive choice, the impact of that on girls and women. In my mother’s life, it pushed her in one direction. The main character in This Telling, a young woman named Geraldine, finds herself in the exact same situation my mom found herself in. It’s the mid-sixties. She’s just out of high school. She finds out she’s pregnant. What was fun and fascinating for me to do is just imagine, what if my mom had taken this other track? What would’ve happened? What would be the outcome of that? With Geraldine, I followed her. The story opens up when she’s seventeen. It ends when she’s seventy. I follow her. The story is very, very, as you know, little micro-chapters as we follow her over the course of her life and how she reckons with that decision she made back in the sixties.

Zibby: Wow. It brings up so many what-ifs for so many people, and especially in light of all the prevalence of DNA testing and everything that’s going on. A friend, I just saw the other day, just told me that she found out she was adopted. She’s sixty years old. This happens all the time now. All these things that we thought were secrets or that people thought were secrets are no longer secrets. I feel like that’s really what your story was about. It’s this corrosive power of secrets and how keeping them can just affect everything from the inside out for the rest of your life, more so than whatever actually happened in some cases.

Cheryl: Completely. I’m so glad you picked up on that because that’s what I was really also trying to interrogate, is the way that silence is always serving in cooperation with shame. The reason we have secrets is we’re ashamed to tell the truth. Of course, as we’ve seen over and over again, that especially when it comes to the realities of the lives of women, the lives of mothers, the radical act of telling the truth is a radical act. Change can’t be made until people say, as you see — I almost just said me too. Me too when it comes to sexual violence and sexual harassment. Me too when it comes to abortions or finding yourself in relationships or situations that you wouldn’t have imagined or expected. So much of, essentially, women’s bodies are cloaked in shame. This story, for me, was about the impact of shame on one woman’s life in the form of my main character Geraldine, but also her movement, we don’t want to spoil the story, but her movement towards stepping out of that shame. In some ways, the only way to reject shame is to tell the truth about who you are. That is just a fact. That’s so much easier said than done, especially if you’re someone like Geraldine who has been really steeped in a culture, in a generation that said, no, you should be ashamed.

Zibby: It’s hard to believe, maybe because I live in New York, that there are still places that view all of the choices as not really choices now, that there are different tolerances, I should say, of all sorts of things, and control and all these things. Anyway, away from politics.

Cheryl: Zibby, I want to say something about that because I think it’s really an important thing for us to remember. I think a lot of American women sort of think, oh, yeah, we have access to birth control. Abortion has been legal for a long time. We have all kinds of choices when it comes to reproduction. First of all, those things are very much being threatened on many fronts right now. Also, what I found is we even have kind of revisionist history about that. When I was writing This Telling, like all stories, it always goes through an editorial process. Geraldine, my character, she gets pregnant in 1964. The editor was like, “Wait a minute, wasn’t birth control legal by then?” It really was fascinating for me because I think a lot of people are like, yeah, it’s been legal since the sixties. Then when I actually did the research and learned that, technically, a very small group of women had access to the pill earlier in the sixties, and they were married women in certain states, that they literally had to have permission from their husband to be prescribed the pill. It really wasn’t until the early seventies that women in all states could get the pill even if you weren’t married, which was later than I even imagined. That was the other piece of that. It’s, in some ways, a historical story. It only goes back to ’64, but that’s been more than fifty years now. I think we forget what it was really like for women who were coming of age in the sixties. We think of it as this wild and free time. Actually, most of America was really quite still very conservative, certainly when it came to issues of sex and female bodies.

Zibby: Tell me about writing something like this which, in audio form, was forty-five minutes. I’m not even sure how long it would have been had I read it in hard copy. Tell me about trying to get so much into this format. This is not a common length, necessarily. It’s not a short story. It’s more like a novella of sorts. You’ve done in-depth memoir and all the rest. What was this particular assignment like for you?

Cheryl: I’m so glad you’re asking about that. What I try to do with everything I write is I try to do something new. I try to stretch myself. Trust me Zibby, there were so many times where I cursed myself. Like I said, it starts when she’s seventeen and ends when she’s seventy. To really try to tell that much of a life in that small of a space — it is a short story, but it’s a long short story. To try to fit that in was a challenge. With the style — I don’t know if you noticed. I’m sure you noticed.

Zibby: I did. The chapters?

Cheryl: I had to be kind of minimal in the language. Each chapter is almost like a little sketch, just a sketch of a moment or one scene or a gesture or a thought. I tried, in some cases, to summarize a whole era in a very concise way. It was really fun for me on the level of language of trying to say as much in a most economical fashion as I could.

Zibby: It’s so funny. My husband, sometimes I read him books. Sometimes I make him listen to audiobooks like this, and especially in the car. This one, he listened to. I was like, “What did you think? That was so great.” He was like, “I just felt like it was very abrupt. Each chapter ended in such an abrupt way.” I was like, “But that was so great because then you wanted to listen to the next chapter.” I think that’s what propels a reader on so well, the shortness, the right to the point of it, basically. That’s the whole trick of a writer, is getting an image into somebody else’s head in the least amount of words, unless you’re heavily invested in the actual beauty of each individual sentence, but you have to do your job. It has to get the point across. With the shoes, for instance, that was such a perfect thing. I won’t give anything away. The shoes, the spotting each other at the mall, these little moments with just little — it’s great. It’s just amazing.

Cheryl: It’s definitely, for me, a challenge as a writer to let each piece be what it is. I would say that most of my work, I’m much more expansive and much more like, I’m going to describe everything and tell the full story behind all of these details. That was the cool part, is trying to do that very minimalistic, abrupt — I wouldn’t use the word abrupt, but certainly concise and knowing that there’s so much off the page that I’m hoping that the reader in their mind will elaborate on, if that makes sense.

Zibby: Of course it makes sense.

Cheryl: Kristen Bell read it.

Zibby: Yes, I know. That was so cool. That was so neat.

Cheryl: It’s funny. As I was writing this piece, it was late last year, early this year, my daughter and husband and I were binge-watching The Good Place. It felt perfect that she was the one to read it.

Zibby: Did you get to pick? Did you have any say in that, or not?

Cheryl: I had a little say. She’s the perfect choice.

Zibby: That’s excellent. You’ve been writing for so long. I was on your Instagram earlier. You had the picture of yourself twenty-five years ago for Wild. I was like, wow, was it that long ago? When you read your writing, it feels like it happened yesterday. You’re so in it. This sense of immediacy is just overpowering. Yet it’s from a long time ago. You’ve been writing and producing all this stuff about all these periods of your life. I know you say you like to experiment with form, but how do you keep it interesting to yourself? How do you keep coming up with new stuff? How do you keep it going so well? What’s the secret?

Cheryl: It’s true, I’ve been a writer since I was nineteen. I’m fifty-two now. With Wild, I didn’t actually write the book until much later. I’ve written all along the way. I have been publishing work since I was in my twenties. One of the ways to keep it alive is I always do take on a challenge. With every piece, I don’t feel like, okay, I’ve got all these years of writing behind me. What I feel like is, how am I going to pull this off? I always feel afraid. I always feel like I can’t do it. One of things I say over and over is that the way it feels to me to write a book is that I can’t write a book. The way it feels to me to write a short story is, I can’t write a short story. I can’t even tell you how many times during This Telling that I just thought, I give up. I surrender. I’m retiring. I can’t do it. Then you persevere. You get through it. You do your best. That’s the thing, too, that I want to say.

I do want to tell people, you can go to Amazon and get my story, This Telling, just clickity, click, click. You could also get the whole collection, my story along with all the other amazing writers who are in the collection. What I always feel really full in my heart, whether it be I’m writing a short story like This Telling or my next book or Wild, is that I’m trying to do my very best. I’m trying to use all of my intelligence. I’m going to try to put my whole heart into that work. I labor over every word again and again and again, but my work ends with the writing. I can’t help it if people love it or if they hate it or if they’re indifferent to it. I try to really just focus on the work and not on people’s opinions of that work. I think that that in some ways keeps me really alive as a writer because I’m putting my focus always on, how can I make the best words on the page today, or on the computer screen today? I think if I shifted my attention to being like, do they love it, do they hate it, what do they think? that’s when I would lose my grounding as a writer.

Zibby: Interesting. When you first came out with Wild and you shared everything, it’s like you’re an open book. We know all about so much stuff about you. Do you feel as you’re going through life that you make different decisions about what you want to share, what you feel comfortable sharing? Do you regret any of the earlier sharing? Is there anything you’d want to take back? How about your kids? Where are you in this today?

Cheryl: There’s nothing I would take back. My first pieces when I first began publishing back in my twenties, they were essays that were extremely revealing like Wild is, two essays. One’s called “The Love of My Life.” One is “Heroin.” They both ended up in Best American Essays. They both introduced me to a big audience in a situation where I was really laying bare my heart. It was extremely educational for me. It was a sort of practice for what would happen with Wild which was a million times bigger, but that people who I don’t know would know a lot about my personal life. What I try to do as a memoirist and personal essayist is really to try to be as vulnerable and brave as I could possibly be about telling the truth about who I am and about my experiences in my life, shucking off that thing, that silence and shame that we were talking about. My character in This Telling essentially lived her life under the trap of silence and shame. I, as a writer, do the opposite of that. I’m like, if I’m ashamed about it, I’m going to write about it. I do think that, for me, it was really important to be mostly vulnerable with myself.

I’m definitely careful about the things I write about other people. I don’t say, okay, I’m just going to say everything. I’m going to talk about my siblings. I’m going to talk about my husband. I’m going to talk about my kids. It’s not that I don’t write about them. When I do write about them, I am more considered because I don’t think it’s my right to violate their privacy. I try to violate my own privacy, not other people’s. Of course, inevitably when you write about people, you do have to sometimes announce to the world things about them that they wouldn’t otherwise tell. I try to do that with a lot of love and respect and also sometimes permission. My kids are teenagers now. They haven’t read my books, but a lot of their peers have. I feel okay with it. I think that someday they’ll come to my books and they’ll be grateful that they can see the inner life of their mom. I would certainly have loved to have that.

Zibby: That’s a nice way to look at it. I don’t know. Would I want to know the inner life of my mom? I’m not sure.

Cheryl: My mom’s been dead a long time. I would love that. I would love to have that. I think when your mom is still alive and you’re active, that maybe you still need to have that kind of boundary. I certainly by no means would ever say to my kids, okay, time to read Mommy’s books now. I think that they’ll come to them when they do. It could be well into their adulthood.

Zibby: So what are you working on now? What’s your next book?

Cheryl: I’m working on another book. I just finished writing a screenplay. I was hired to write a screenplay about a very interesting person. I can’t say who it is. I finished that. I’m doing some revisions on that right now and working on my next book. Listen, it’s a novel, but then I’m also working on a memoir. I keep changing my mind about which one I’m going to finish first. I’m kind of running two races at the same time. I’m not sure who’s going to win. Memoir or novel? Memoir or novel? It’s funny. Wild was published in March of 2012. Then Tiny Beautiful Things was published literally four or five months later, which is insane. I had a crazy year of book promotion, more than a year to be honest. I just wonder because I’m writing these two books at the same time — they won’t, probably, come out four months apart, but they might come out in quicker succession than expected.

Zibby: How are you toggling back and forth like that? How are you structuring your time? How are you allotting time to each project? How do you even, in your head, keep it straight? Is it just, you pick it up when you are inspired for each one?

Cheryl: I’m going to actually do a little writing retreat soon. I think what’s going to happen is — I’m at the moment of truth, like, okay Cheryl — because I can’t. I can’t really get to that total sink-in mode until I commit. I’ve written a bit of both, a substantial amount of both. There’s a certain point where I’m like, now this one, I’m diving in. That decision’s coming very soon. You’re right. I don’t go day by day. I’ll work for a month on this and get stuck. Then I’ll work for a month on this and get stuck. I’m going to have to make a decision. Do you have a vote? Novel or memoir? Oh, you’re a memoir addict.

Zibby: I was going to say, I vote for memoir all the time. I also love fiction, though. I read a ton of fiction. I love both. There’s just something about memoirs that’s so intimate where I know it’s you. It’s not like I suspend disbelief and it’s a character. I can still get really emotionally invested, and I love it. With a memoir, it’s literally, like what you were saying, someone’s just giving you their diary. They’re like, here, let me put this in your hand. Then I’m going to just stand by and let you read it. I just feel this enormous gratitude to memoirists because I’m like, thank you. Thank you for trusting the reader, essentially, with what you’re writing. I think it always helps so much. It helps somebody with what you’re going through.

Cheryl: Totally. It’s interesting, absolutely. Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough, all three of them nonfiction, so many people say, you helped me with these books. My first book, Torch, is a novel. Lots and lots of people read that and say, oh, my gosh, that helped me so much. I saw myself in these characters. I do think that, for me, really good fiction, it does that thing where you actually feel like you’re reading about real people. You can identify with that character as much as you identify with somebody who happens to be a real person. I think that it can have that function. I will say writing This Telling made me feel like, oh, my gosh, it’s so fun to be back in the world of fiction again because you can change your character’s plot. You can be like, wait a minute, let’s have her do this instead of that. Whereas memoir, you’re stuck with the plot of your own life.

Zibby: That’s true. Memory, of course, is a big constraint. You talked about writing a screenplay. What has it been like entering the Hollywood land of life? What is like being in the entertainment world in that way?

Cheryl: A whole new universe. It really is a new universe. First of all, the Wild movie experience was as good as it could possibly be for a writer. I have friends who have had really bad experiences in Hollywood. Most writers have the experience of having their book optioned and they’re so excited about it and it’s glorious, and then nothing happens. I had the great fortunate of having Reese Witherspoon. She was partnered with this producer, Bruna Papandrea. They were just like, we’re going to make this movie. We’re going to get it done. It was amazing. They got to work on it. They hired Nick Hornby to write the script. Next thing you knew, we were rolling. We shot it in Oregon. I was really very involved with everything. They sent me the script. I would weigh in on it. They had me on the set. I got to become friends with all the people who made the movie, Laura Dern who played my mom and Reese who played me and lots of folks. It was just a wonderful experience.

What was really cool about it is, I knew from the start that I was going to need to not be like, wait a minute, cut, that’s not how it is. That’s not how the book is. I had to really realize this film is not my book. My book is my book. My book is the thing I made. What they’re making is an interpretation of this. It’s its own thing. If you only see the movie, you didn’t really have the Wild experience. There’s so much more in the book. I think that the movie did a really beautiful job being true to the book in a lot of ways and honoring the book, but there’s stuff in the book that there couldn’t be in the movie. They had to really streamline it more, as you do. Now being a writer in Hollywood too just as a sideline job has been really fun. Like I said, I’m really into trying new stuff. That’s how “Dear Sugar” was born. I was asked to write an advice column. I said, “I’m not an advice giver. I don’t write advice columns.” Then there, I went for it. It was honestly one of the biggest things of my life, a really powerful thing. When I was asked to write this screenplay, I was afraid. I thought maybe I can’t do it. Then I did it. I felt like, wow, I learned so much in that process. I’ll be able to talk about it more directly someday, I hope. I do hope the movie gets made because it’s a really cool experience. It’s a different world, but it’s also a wonderful — I learned a lot about writing in writing in that very new form.

Zibby: I think we need to explore at some point, why you keep thinking you can’t do it and why you’re scared at the beginning of projects when all evidence is to the contrary. I guess that’s just the way people are.

Cheryl: Would you please be my therapist, Zibby?

Zibby: No problem.

Cheryl: It’s because I’m damaged. I’m laughing, but I’m telling you the truth. I really always think I can’t do it. Then I always do it. It’s just part of me. It’s my psyche. I don’t think it’s necessarily a sign of weakness. I don’t know that it’s something I have to fix. Maybe it’s just that I’m embracing it really fully and saying, this is how I feel. This is how it feels. It’s scary. It’s hard. The fact that I always meet that fear and difficulty with essentially saying, I’m going to persist anyway in doing it, I think that’s what matters in the end.

Zibby: You’re absolutely right.

Cheryl: I think I’m not alone. I can’t read the comments, but are people saying, I feel that way too?

Zibby: I haven’t been reading them either, but I guarantee you, I know other people are feeling that way because most authors I talk to are like, that must have been a fluke. I hope I can do it. It’s not just you.

Cheryl: Is it called imposter syndrome or something? What’s weird is whenever I hear that phrase, imposter syndrome, I don’t feel like an imposter in that kind of larger way. I definitely feel like, yep, I am a writer. This is my call. I’ve answered that call. To me, the imposter is more on the daily. There I am sitting in front of my laptop, and I have to do what I feel I cannot do.

Zibby: This is what I say to my daughter when she gets scared to go to school or something like that. We have this mantra. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. I just have her say that over and over or I write it on a little piece of paper. Now that’s our thing. You’re free to use that if that helps.

Cheryl: It’s a great one.

Zibby: What advice would you have to aspiring authors?

Cheryl: So much advice, but let me just give a little bit. I think that this thing we’re talking about is really key. I would say that most writers I know struggle with this very thing I was just talking about, that sense of doubt or doom, or I tried and I failed and I can’t do this, that voice in your head that keeps you from writing. You have to come up with a way to work with that. Probably, what’s going to happen isn’t that suddenly one day you’re going to be like, I’m a great writer and everything I say is brilliant, and so let me just type away. That’s probably not going to happen. I don’t know one person who writes that way. You need to learn how to manage those voices in your head and decide that you’re going to continue the work even if it’s hard and even if it feels impossible or scary. You also have to find a way to glide past the external voices who say that’s not a very good career plan or hardly any writers make a living from writing or all of those practical advice givers who basically want you to go get what they call a real job.

What I would say to anyone who really wants to be a writer is writing is a real job. It’s the realest work I’ve ever done. Of course, it’s fraught with all kinds of — there are no guarantees to any kind of artist in this world that you’ll ever have that external success that manifests itself in a check in the mail. We know that you won’t get the check if you don’t try. We know that you won’t succeed as a writer if you don’t write. Decide to keep faith with that. Decide to keep faith with the daily practice of doing it. By daily practice of doing it, I don’t mean you have to write every day. I mean whatever little fire that you have burning in you that tells you you’re a writer, feed that fire. Do that work. Whether you write one time a month for a day or write every day, come up with some system where you get the work done in spite of all of the forces against you that live both in your head and out in the world.

Zibby: Once you finish something great, do you allow yourself to be like, actually, this is pretty awesome, once it’s all done?

Cheryl: Yeah, every single time. Here’s the other thing. I guess that’s the benefit for me of being an experienced writer now. I actually can see, I know the pattern. The pattern is, I can’t do this. This is impossible. I can’t do it. I quit. I quit. No, no, no. Then I keep going. I keep going, and keep going, and keep going. I get to the end. Then I look at it. I think, wait a minute, what was wrong with me? This isn’t so bad. This is actually kind of okay. It might not be perfect or the best thing I’ve ever written and some people might not love it, but hey, it stands up, man. I did it. I made it. The reason it’s such hard labor is we writers, we make something that didn’t exist before. We made a story where there was no story. We made a poem where there was no poem. We made a play, a screenplay, whatever it is. Once you have it there before you, it’s hard not to have some gratitude and respect for it. Yeah, I feel great when I finish something.

Zibby: See, you’re cured. Our session is over.

Cheryl: That’s right. My therapist, Zibby, has now helped me. It’s so much like running a marathon or hiking a long trail if we want to use Wild as the metaphor. Every time I go on a hike, there are times where it’s like, okay, this is hard. It’s hard to keep pushing up the mountain. Then you get there and you’re like, this is glorious. That was worth it. Persistence is such a key piece of being a writer.

Zibby: That’s amazing, and also loops back in with This Telling and the whole feminist theme of the entire series, of the entire collection. It’s all about breaking through and doing great work and achieving and not giving up.

Cheryl: That’s right, and staying strong even through the hard times. Full circle.

Zibby: Full circle. Cheryl, thank you so much. I was so excited to do this with you. Again, I have so much respect for you. It’s been so nice getting to talk to you one on one. Thank you.

Cheryl: It’s really, really lovely to talk to you as well. Thank you for all of you who are listening to us and tune into this. I hope you go and read This Telling. I hope you enjoy it.

Zibby: Yes, absolutely. I think I have a code on Audible because they’re my sponsor now. You can get a free month on Audible., and you get a free month of Audible. Use it to get This Telling.

Cheryl: You can listen to it on Audible like you did or you can go read it. Go do Zibby’s link, everyone.

Zibby: If you want. You don’t have to, but I just realized. Anyway, thank you so much. Stay in touch.

Cheryl: You too. Bye, Zibby. Thank you.

Zibby: Buh-bye.

Cheryl Strayed, THIS TELLING

THIS TELLING by Cheryl Strayed

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