WILD on the Wharf

It was a spectacular, if overcast, day on the wharf in San Francisco. The perfect place for a reading.

I just got home from a Cheryl Strayed reading and thought I’d share a few tidbits before I head off to bed.

She opened by telling the SRO crowd how she came to hike the trail, what had triggered the decision to do it.  Then she read a very short and funny passage — the part where she meets the journalist who writes about hobos, if you’ve read the book — which was snappy and funny and just right.  Then she took questions.  All in, less than an hour = the perfect author reading!  (note to self )

Now, here are your promised bits:

1.  She’s grateful and overwhelmed by WILD’s reception.  It will be #7 next week when the NYT Book Review comes out.  But she was very clear that, to her, this book would be the same book if only 5 people read it.  Once you write the book and put it out there, you really have no idea what will become of it.  She’s been a starving artist for 20 years.  What fun this is.

2.  She’s always considered herself an aspiring writer, but a fiction writer.  She never planned to write this.

3.  How long did it take to write it?  2 Years.

4.  She doesn’t outline.  She finds the narrative by writing the story.  In a lot of ways, WILD was already organized.  There is the trail, going South to North, and every chapter naturally begins on the trail, a little further up the way.  This part of the story is naturally chronological, even though the back story she weaves in is not.

5. Note to memoir writers:  If you’re not going to reveal your true self, stay home.  Even if we share all of ourselves in close relationships, there are always our deeper selves, the selves we don’t readily share, so when you write your memoir you have to let it out, you have to reveal your humanity.

6.  The most appalling question she’s answered on this book tour?  “Did you have sex with anyone on the trail in exchange for food?”  To which she answered, “Why? Do you want to have dinner?”

If you have a chance to see her, go!  Here’s where you can find her upcoming events.


I’ll have you know I was a 1/2 hour early and sat in the front row and was the first in the looooooong line to have my book signed.

Okay, I was an hour early — the first one in the store.  The chairs weren’t even set up yet.

I did sit in the front row, but I soon regretted this when a woman plopped down next to me and started trying to sell me her book.  Without so much as an introduction she cuddled right up and started selling.  And selling.  And selling.

I was first in line, until some older finely dressed and coiffed lady, who obviously knew Cheryl, scooched right in front of me and started having a conversation with the author.  It was an awkward few minutes.  What to do?!  Where to look?!  How to not interrupt!!  Shit.  By the time the lady left, I’d lost my words.  I handed her my book to sign and I could barely speak.  I tried to say how much I’d loved the book, but did I actually say that?  Shit.  And then I wanted to say I knew someone from her writing group and it felt like it took an hour to get Suzy’s first and last name out of my mouth, which didn’t even seem to go together by the time I got them out.  I’m nothing if not smooth.


15 thoughts on “WILD on the Wharf

  1. Lyra

    I’m so glad you got to go!
    What a great report for those of us not there. Thank you.
    What is it about standing in front of an author’s signing table and being at a complete loss for words? I havve done this so many times now, I’ve just about given up other than to sputter out “Me like books yours lots”. Yeesh.

    1. Teri Post author

      Honest to betsy I think I said, A new writer friend of mine is in your writing group? She said, Oh! Who? And I could not think of Suzy’s first or last name to save my idiot self. I finally got it out, but barely. I had the panic. Said, Suzy. And had to work like mad to come up with that last name. Totally freaked me out.

      1. Averil Dean

        You adorable chick, I love how star-struck you were. That’s a reader. That’s LOVE.

        Cheryl sounds amazing and sweet and so funny. But you? Even more so.

  2. amyg

    did she say if her feet and tree-bark-boiled-chicken skin flaps on her hips ever recovered fully. (i almost emailed her to ask because i can’t stop thinking about whether that would be a okay, like a battle scar that carries strength; or, if it would be this thing that now she always has aching, bum feet–which would suck.)

    i’m on the last 20 pages. i thought i would finish it and then my little sister went and had a gorgeous 6 lbs 9 oz beautiful baby boy yesterday and i am totally and utterly consumed.

    1. Teri Post author

      She did not say if it’s all healed, but she did focus on the fact that all the physical pain was so distracting it got her out of her head (and heart). You can’t focus on your breaking heart when you’re just trying to haul that ridiculous pack and find water before you croak.


  3. CJ

    Did she talk about cravings? They came through powerfully in the book. From heroin to snapple in a matter of months must have been difficult–physically difficult. As hard as shooting that horse, which to me was the scene that had me holding my breath. A truly great read that memoir. And I love the Ferry building. Youknow how to live Terri.

    1. Teri Post author

      She did. Every time someone asked a question — what about this or that — her answer started with “I was starving,” “All I wanted was food,” “I first wondered if he had food,” etc…. Totally food and water focused.

  4. LauraMaylene

    That hobo scene is a gem. I’m so thrilled you got to see her; I’m not sure if I’ll make it to any of her appearances for WILD.

    Also? My nightmare is one day becoming that woman who plunks herself down at a reading and tries to sell her own book. The horror!

  5. erikamarks

    If only she were coming to this coast…but since she’s not, thank you for this. It was like being there. (But oy vey on the sales pitch–what in the heck are people thinking?? Oh, right. They’re not!)

    I’m still awaiting my copy. Talk about “cravings”!

  6. macdougalstreetbaby

    I’m so jealous of all the author readings you attend. Really, I am. One day I hope to be just like you.

  7. Catherine

    Sounds totally inspiring. Especially that it would be equal to her, selling 5 copies or selling 500 000. I do wonder if that’s true (having been a starving writer for years there’s nothing wrong with earning some dosh!) and think she should be tremendously proud of her success. She must be an amazing lady.

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