I am, as they say, the classic starving artist. While I worked on the book, I was also writing the Dear Sugar advice column and mentoring writing students at the Attic Institute in Portland. I taught workshops at universities. I wrote for magazines. This took time and insane amounts of juggling, but it's how I earned a living.
5. A Weird, Scary Moment of Self-Doubt Cropped Up
For three weeks, I holed up by myself in this cabin in a remote corner of Oregon. It's actually the farthest away you can be away from a freeway on-ramp in the United States. During that time alone, I sat in a chair and read the entire book out loud to myself. If someone had filmed those three weeks, it would have been a documentary of a madwoman. I was so obsessed that I would work around the clock and barely sleep.
There's this weird point in writing where you both can see the work really clearly and deeply—and then also you can't see it all. I worried that I'd failed miserably and that the book didn't make sense and that it was boring and stupid. I thought I would send it in and my editor would say, "Oh, no, we've made a terrible mistake."
6. The Fear of Vicious, Cackling Strangers Gave Her Second Thoughts
When I finished the book, I said to myself, "What have I done?" I really thought, "You are insane, Cheryl, for having written a memoir." With fiction, you can hide behind it. You can say, "Some of these things are true—but not all of them." With a memoir, it's "Here I am!" I was telling the whole world about who I was and what had brought me to this one experience. What if nobody could relate? I was terrified, and I thought, "If people don't like the book, they really just don't like me."
Wild was chosen as the first selection in Oprah's Book Club 2.0 in 2012.
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