The last few sentences of Cheryl Strayed’s gutsy memoir, Wild, floated in the air around me. I didn’t want to close this book, sad that it had come to an end.
I had built a strong relationship with this real-life story, and by virtue of knowing Cheryl’s deepest secrets and darkest days, although superficial as it can be in this situation, I felt I had also built a relationship with Cheryl. She had battled her demons, lost her mother, regrouped and triumphed. I felt she was writing on behalf of me as well – the motherless sisterhood.
This book was brought to my attention by a recent Writer’s Digest article which briefly examined her unorthodox writing journey. The risks Cheryl took definitely worked in her favour; including agreeing to write an advice column without pay. In it, she encouraged a depressed writer to, “Write Like a Motherf**cker.” She seemed like my kind of people. So I immediately bought her book – just as I found out Oprah had discovered Cheryl too.
While reading Wild, my mind often floated to my own journey. Why hadn’t I written a memoir? Needing to read through a proof of my fictional novel, stripped down running, yesterday before it is released through Amazon next month, I knew the answer to that question. I hadn’t written memoir because that made me feel too vulnerable, too exposed, too raw. Too stripped down!
The usual first question people ask me when holding the book, after marvelling at the beautiful cover is, “Is this your story?” Red-faced, I often quickly reply, “NO! It is a story about events that have happened with clients.”
Sorry everyone, I haven’t been entirely true about that. This book is mostly about me – but not in a way that chronicles actual events. It is a memoir-of-sorts, which examines the challenges I faced, although on a different scale. I did over-dramatize many of the scenes and sometimes I wrote about fantasies I had – things I wished I could have done (like what would happen if I drove off the road) when I was in my darkest hours. Many of the scenes happened as battles in my mind, not in actual physical events.
I came to the realization that I hope people from my past will read my novel. That they will go, “Ah… that’s why she did that.” Perhaps one of the motivating forces to write stripped down running was to apologize for my behaviour when I didn’t know better, and to let people know that I do know better now.
In terms of the locales in my novel, I have been to Peru, walked the Inca trail, been a nervous wreck canoeing over a jungle lake full of piranhas, and gone long-distance road-biking without a support vehicle. The account of the bike trip in the novel is not accurate to what actually occurred in my trip with my dear friend Renee, but it grasps the beautiful sisterhood and exhaustion of such a journey. The photo I attached here was taken a few weeks ago when I had the wonderful opportunity to spend the day with Renee doing one of my favourite things; hiking in the mountains. Living in London, ON now means this only happens once a year, so I treasure the day I spent on “Lady Mac” in Canmore, AB.
After being inspired by Cheryl, I am going to come clean in future blog-posts where I will share photos from locations mentioned in the book and provide personal accounts of particular scenes. I hope you come stripped down running with me.