My column on The Rumpus is not for everyone. It’s neurotic. It’s self-indulgent. I don’t stop at nosily grilling authors about how they had the nerve to reveal so much about themselves and everyone else in their lives; I also impose upon them to help me sort out my own personal dilemmas around trying to do the same.
For some it really works; I become a stand-in for other terrified would-be authors with similar questions and dilemmas. For others, it doesn’t. They dismiss it as, well, neurotic and self-indulgent. I mostly don’t care. I get to ask authors I admire how they did what I’m terrified of doing, and I get a lot out of it.
Today, my conversation with Cheryl Strayed is up. These days, interviews with Cheryl are a dime a dozen. Over a year ago, when she and I first talked about doing this, neither of us had any idea how insanely popular (and best-selling!) her memoir, Wild, would be; nor that, inspired by it, Oprah would restart her book club; nor that Cheryl would also get a book deal for a collection of Sugar columns - Tiny Beautiful Things, out tomorrow. All I knew was that I’d read some of her essays, her novel, Torch, and every last one of her columns as Sugar, and found her to be a gutsy writer I wanted to talk to.
We’d been planning to do a split-screen Skype video that I could then post, instead of transcribing and editing, as usual. We thought a video interview would be different and fun. I downloaded special software to enable that. But then - Oprah and her webisodes. Suddenly, posting a video interview didn’t seem so special anymore. (Plus, there is some problem with MacBook Pros and the special software. I went ahead and tried, but wound up only being able to see and record Cheryl.)
So, there it is: another interview with Cheryl Strayed. I promise you it’s not like the others you may have read. I won’t promise you’ll like it. It’s almost as much about me as it is about Cheryl, which is basically how my column works. I know that has limited appeal. You like it or you don’t. And so it is.