Cheryl Strayed, People who Leave you at the Worst Possible Moment, and Two Links to Writing Prompts

I have been reading Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild and have found in her a fellow-traveler in more ways than one.  Not just someone who felt she had to go somewhere for spiritual exercise — in her case, a 1000-mile trek by herself on foot alone along the spine of the Sierras — but someone who had to deal with that old problem, life not happening the way you want it too, in a TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE WAY.  I’m not talking about getting a speeding ticket, people, I’m talking about people dying and/or leaving you, on purpose, for reasons that you simply cannot fathom.  At the wrong time.  Without, apparently, considering what their leaving could do to you.

It’s like that song by Randy VanWarmer from my youth, as in “you left me just when I needed you most.”


Okay, I’ve stopped crying.

This is a big issue, people who leave.  For another example, I was just reading K.E. Garland’s blog about her anthology Daddy, which considers the importance these men have on us and what happens when they don’t participate.  Strayed’s journey was undertaken to help her recover after her mother died suddenly and unexpectedly when Stayed was in her early 20’s.  My own current memoir project is about my father’s ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease, but it’s really about my quest for forgiveness of his decision to throw me out of the house when I was 16.  No, I was not a rebellious child.  The problem seemed to be that he and his new girlfriend didn’t want me around.

People let you down, guys.  What do you do?

Well, if you are to take Wild as a guidebook, I suppose you must challenge yourself and take care of yourself and prove to yourself that you are worthy just as you are, no makeup, no embellishments, no relying on other people, learn to police your own shortcomings, and find your own meaning.

Another opportunity would be to write your feelings down.  Toward that end, I found two sets of Cheryl Strayed’s writing prompts.

These writing prompts are from Albert Flynn DeSilver’s Blog:

These writing prompts are from and were linked by @CherylStrayed, who you can follow on twitter:


Now I will warn you:  some of these are tough.  “Write about a time when you were mistaken?”  Aw man, I don’t want to do that.

But it might be good for me.

Author: Susan Taylor Brand

Elementary teacher and blogger

3 thoughts on “Cheryl Strayed, People who Leave you at the Worst Possible Moment, and Two Links to Writing Prompts”

  1. Also, love Cheryl Strayed! We have similar issues with our fathers, like eerily similar. I was thrown out when I was 16 as well and sent to live with my maternal grandmother; my dad, like yours had a beau that he married soon after said throwing out. My life changed because of that one action.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I noticed that you wrote it was at the age of 16. It seems to me that it’s just such an awful age to have something like that happen. In my case it was almost crippling, because I was spoiled, and my dad was the caregiver parent. I have been working on a memoir, reaching for forgiveness, and think now that I mistook proximity for character, with him. I though of him as a great guy because he was there — but when he wasn’t there, I didn’t know who he was anymore. And I kindof still don’t. I’m also wondering about other dads, and the messages our society sends them about how they should live, how they should parent.

      Liked by 1 person

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