Takeaways from Cheryl Strayed

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IMG_0506image courtesy of Cheryl Strayed

Last week I biked through the dimly-lit city streets to see Cheryl Strayed in person. You may know her as the author Wild or Tiny Beautiful Things. She was in DC promoting her new book Brave Enough.

After the standard introductions and logistics from the hosts, Cheryl walked down the aisle to a roaring crowd. She hugged a few students en route, then took her seat on stage.

Below is a smattering of quotables from the event:

“Writing ‘pours’ out of you when you’ve spent years apprenticing your craft. It poured out of me after spending 20 years apprenticing how to write.”

“A word after a word after a word is power,” quoting Margaret Atwood.

“The first line of a writer’s job description is to tell the truth.”

“You absolutely will fail. Failure is part of success. What do you do in the face of failure? You keep trying to succeed.”

“Books will save your life. Remember that.”

“You have to decide what to do with the ugliest thing in your life,” referencing the death of her mother.

“You are defined by who you become in the face of suffering/fears.”

“Let in beauty, truth, light, and love.”

“Shift your story and tell a new one.”

“Ask yourself: ‘Did I do the work?’ and ‘Did I do the best I could?’ In art if you can say yes, you’re a success. Don’t rely on money or fame as artistic success.”

I found her insight on the writing process to be real, her struggle to pay off student loans raw {she did so after the success of Wild in her 40s}, and her emphasis to define success as showing up and doing your best a good reminder.

I’m now looking forward to devouring her latest work, Brave Enough.

Additional quotes by Cheryl:

“Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.”

“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story.”

“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”

“The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherf***ing shit out of it.”

“Be about ten times more magnanimous than you believe yourself capable of. Your life will be a hundred times better for it.”

“How wild it was, to let it be.”