Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild’: finding the right time to tell your story

In 1995 Cheryl Strayed hiked the 1,000 mile Pacific Crest Trail in an attempt to stop the downward spiral she'd been in. Her mother had died, and in her grief Strayed ruined her own marriage.


Cheryl Strayed, author of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" and "Dear Sugar," is in the Twin Cities to give readings from her work.

MPR Photo/Euan Kerr

Strayed completed the trail, but she told MPR's Euan Kerr she didn't feel ready to write about the experience until recently.

She emerged from the trail a different person, ready to move on with her life. She emphasizes that it was a subtle change.

"Narratives that we receive from Hollywood and other media sources is that somehow somebody began a journey and they were Charles Manson, and then end the journey and they are the Buddha," Strayed said. "And I knew for certain that's not how transformation works. That's not how my life worked."

People told Strayed for years she should write about her experience but she told them she didn't have anything to say.

"An interesting experience does not a story make," Strayed said. "At least not a book."

But the transformation that had began on the trail continued, Strayed said. She published two books of fiction. She moved to Portland, Ore., remarried and now has two small children.

"And so it was the right time," she said. "I began writing "Wild" in 2008. I thought it was going to be an essay and I found I that I really had so much more to say."

You can find out more about Strayed's story - and her book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - here.

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