Heading to the French Alps to Study With Cheryl Strayed.
Even as I write these words, I feel as though I am dreaming.
I just learned that I've been officially accepted to the Butler MFA Chamonix Summer Writing Program, a three-week intensive workshop in the French Alps with Wild author Cheryl Strayed.
The program will be held this June and falls on the last three weeks before my memoir Gorge is due to my publisher. I can't imagine a more inspiring setting to finish a project about mountain hiking. It all starts on my 40th birthday.
To say I admire Cheryl is an understatement. She's a kind and kindred spirit.
The first time I met Cheryl, she offered me her seat. It was at the New York Public Library. I was running late and nabbed a seat in the second row on the far right. As it turned out, it was right behind Cheryl's spot. She came out for a moment before going on stage, and said, "Sit here, you can see better."
It was such a sweet and wonderful gesture from someone I admired so much. But I was afraid to move. Maybe just intimidated. I brought a copy of my self-published book Fat Woman on the Mountain and gave it to her at the signing table. I don't know why.
Last June I was able to attend a day-long workshop with Cheryl while I was out in California for my husband' cousin's wedding (and, funny enough, my 39th birthday).
The event set my writing on fire, inspired me to reach deeper than I ever had before. I used the momentum and inspiration to finish my Gorge book proposal. If I ever got stuck, I went back to Cheryl's infamous Rumpus piece "Write Like a Motherf*cker". It gave me the permission and courage to write what scared me.
I refused to get stuck in the woe of the internal writer battle. Just like a mountain climb, I pushed on when the writing got difficult. I had to go to a place with my writing that wasn't just about telling you what happened on my most recent trek up Kilimanjaro. I had to dive deep into what it all meant -- even if it meant showing you my most vulnerable, painful moments.
With that, I can't wait to see what these three weeks studying with Cheryl will do for my writing.
Til then, I'll just keep writing.