Yesterday someone came into work to ask if we stock Tiny Beautiful Things. We don’t, but we ordered it in for her, and in the meantime I exploded in a lovefest for Cheryl Strayed.
Last year at NonFictioNow 2012 (at RMIT in Melbourne), I was lucky enough to see Cheryl Strayed speak, and read her piece “Write Like a Motherfucker“, which originated as a Dear Sugar column. This reading moved me, in a really important and fundamental way. Everything Elissa Bassist writes is something I’ve felt before, and something I suspect that most 26 year-old female writers have felt. Most writers in general, really.
Cheryl (Sugar)’s response is spot on too. Hearing her read it that first time at RMIT made me go home and write, and whenever I feel unable to work because of those self-doubting thoughts, I read it again and then get up and write. I bought a mug from The Rumpus, with WRITE LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER written on it. I drink coffee out of it, and it reminds me, and sometimes that helps. It’s a rare piece of writing that can consistently move me in that way.
In light of all this, when that poor customer asked me if I knew of Cheryl Strayed, I exploded on her about how much I love Strayed, how much her words mean to me, and how real I find her. Proceeded to sell her Wild, and order in Tiny Beautiful Things, and encourage her strongly to go read all the Dear Sugar columns on the Rumpus. Poor customer. She had no idea what she was getting herself into!
I also just found this fantastic follow-up interview between Elissa Bassist and Cheryl Strayed up on the Brevity blog (tied to Creative NonFiction mag). I particularly love what Strayed has to say about drafting and re-writing.
In other nonfictional news, I’ve made a decision. I’ve been dreaming of going overseas to a lit festival, and I’ve decided that NonFictioNow 2014 is it. Iowa, here I come!