Rasmussen College Interviews Cheryl Strayed – Best-Selling Author

Rasmussen College Interviews Cheryl Strayed – Best-Selling Author

August 14, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


I got my start as a writer really, very
young by, you know, essentially putting my faith in writing. I think, a
lot of times, we think the people are writers once they’re publishing, or once
you’ve heard of them, or they’ve had some, you know, big success, and that’s not
really the case, you know. I — the way one starts writing is by writing, and by
apprenticing oneself to the craft of literature. And so I did that; I did that
as a kid. When I started reading books and writing in my little diary, and then
I did it as a college student, where I when I became more serious about about
being a writer, and starting to really look at some of the greats, and how they
wrote, and how they constructed their scenes, and their sentences, and started
to try to do that very seriously myself. And then, you know, throughout my adult
life, you know, in my 20s, really going through such a process of trying to
figure out who I was and really having to test my faith in myself as a writer,
it’s a really hard thing to believe in yourself when you’re an artist of any
kind, because all of the voices around us say, “When are you going to get a real job?” You know? And I think to be a writer, you have to say, “Well, my real job is my
writing,” and that’s a really key shift that if that doesn’t happen inside of
you, you’re not going to ever succeed as a writer. And so I’ve tried to, you
know, to always — of course, I care about my work being published. Of course I wanted
to win awards, or grants, or residencies, but I always tried to really
measure my success by my ability to answer yes to the question of “Was I
really giving everything I could to my writing? Was I really doing the work it
takes?” And so that’s how I got my start, by writing. In a practical way, what
started to happen over the years is early on, I decided not to focus so
much on publication. I did send some things out and try to get published, but
I really tried to first apply for things that would actually nurture my writing,
so I applied to this thing called a residency. There
are different organizations that sponsor writers, you know. They’ll say, “Come live
in our house, or cabin, or whatever for two weeks, or a month, or three months,” or whatever it is, and “We’ll feed you and essentially give you time to write for
that period of time.” And those things were really important to me early on, to
just have that time to say, “For this month, my job is to write.” And so I did
that, and then slowly it started to apply for other things — grants and fellowships,
and then started to send my work out.