Modern Love presents an excerpt of the first episode of “Sugar Calling." Hear Cheryl Strayed in conversation with the author George Saunders, her old friend and mentor from graduate school.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
The charge hello hi, I'm Sarah! I know how are you doing going running in your hi? I'm Cheryl strayed am a writer, and some people know me as dear sugar. So a couple of days ago I called my old friend and writing teacher George Saunders Pakistan, so isolating even more than we used to do, which is really saying something re to be a writer and told ok. Now you have to socially distance in your like yeah. That's what I've been doing for decades right, dishonor is actually no. If you dont know Georgia's work, your infra treat he's a magnificent writer, He's written several books among them, Lincoln in the border pastoral yeah tenth of December he's also written men.
Beautiful short stories that appear in the new Yorker and whenever I read his work, I get that feeling of magnificence that feeling of being truly transformed and lifted he's done it as a writer, but he's also done it as a person or a city where I was once one of your students in you were my t. Turn bar students, unscathed That's my main class first met him in August of nineteen. Ninety nine getting my ms in fiction. Writing at Syracuse University he's long been a source for me of wisdom when I feel lost and when I feel like, I need to be in some ways
transported out of whatever moment, I'm in into something bigger. That's really strange! Yeah, you know, we've been lucky not to be sick, at least yet, but beyond us. There are really painful and hard and difficult things happening to a lot of people around the globe and that to me you know, I I have to say has been terrifying and it's been distracting and I'm curious how you've been responding to that emotionally. Well, I think you know in some ways it's I dunno like.
It's always happening, you know there there's always misery, but you know I. I also think I've noticed about myself that in times like this, my mind wants to have answers for everything you don't want to have a take on things to give myself comfort. You know it's kind of like I think of it, like you know, when you slip on the ice in the net split second, before you're about to hit the ground. That's really pay, no heavy know take you're, just out of control and the payments rushing up, and so I think sometimes you just go yeah we're in that moment. You know we can pretend we can stop time and have a take on hitting the pavement, ignore or being mindful as we hit the pavement. But in fact it's it's really unknown what's happening, and you know I think, especially for writers. It's both confusing and Wharton, I think to say yeah we don't know. Ah, we have to keep our sensory apparatus as opens. We can so we don't miss any actual data and and to do that in the face of one's own anxiety is kind of difficult. It is- and you know, as you're talking
your reminded me, you told me about an email. You wrote to your students, your graduate students, Georgia, still a professor of creative writing at Syracuse and when I reached out to a recently he mentioned that he wrote a note to students there when they found out the school. down and creative writing and I'm wondering if you could read to me what you wrote to them should or should not be happy to discuss like this. Dear ass, you writers, cheese. What a hardened depressing and scary so much suffering in anxiety everywhere. I saw this be happily buzzing around a flower yesterday, like moron. If you only knew, but it also occurs
this- is when the world needs our eyes and ears in mines has never happened before here. So he's not since one thousand nine hundred and eighteen we are, and especially you are the generation that is going to have to help us make sense of this and recover afterwards. What new forms might you invent to fictionalizing event like this or all of the drama is happening in private, essentially. are you keeping records of the emails and texture getting the thoughts you're having the way your hearts and minds are reacting to this strange new way of living. It's all important! Fifty years from now people the age, you are We don't believe this ever happened or will do go to eye roll, we all do when someone tells about something crazy. That happened in nineteen sixty, but will convince that future. Kid is what you were able to write about this.
And what you re able to write about it will depend on how much sharp attention you're paying now and what wreckage you keep. Also, I think, with how open you can keep your heart, I'm trying to practice feeling something like so this is happening now or so. This, too is part of life on earth did not know that universe, thanks so much stinker, and then I will quick try to pretend. I didn't just call me a stinker. I did a piece once where I went to live incognito in a homeless camp in Fresno for a week very intense, but the best thing I heard in there was this older guy from Guatemala, who is always saying everything is always keep changing. Truer words were spoken, it's only when we expect solidity non change that we get taken by surprise, and we always expect solidity. no matter how well we know better well, this is
in the little preaching, and let me confess it, I'm not take my own advice at all. It's all happening, so fast Pollack has what we are hoping for just a bad cold and I'm doing a lot of inept care caregiving. Her dogs can feel it we're just going on no walk again, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that the world is like a sleeping tiger. And we tend to live our lives there on its back, who are much smaller than the tiger obviously were like barbies and kens on the back of a tiger now and then that tiger wakes up- and that is terrifying- sometimes it wakes up in someone we love dies or someone breaks our heart or there's a pandemic, but this is far from the first time that Tiger has come awake. He
He has been doing since the beginning of time and will never stop doing it, and always there have been right to observe it and later make some sort of sensible, or at least bear witness to. It is good for the world for a rider to bear witness and is good for the writer too. especially if she can bear witness with love and humor and despite it all some fondness for the world, just as it's manifesting, warts and all all of this to say Still work to be done, and now more than ever there is a beautiful story about the russian poet on ok, Manawa, her husband was shot and her son an arrested during the stalinist purchase,
if he was standing outside the prison with hundreds of other women in similar situations, it's russian cold and they have to go there every day. Wait for hours in this big open yard then get the answer that today and every day there will be no news, but every day they keep coming back a woman recognizing her, as the famous poet says poet, can you write this enactment of a thinks about it for a second and goes yes, I wish you all the best during this crazy period, soon things soon, things will be back to some sort of normal and it will be easier to be happy again. I believe this, and I hope one of you have a What to see you all again and working with you anymore, in time. Was sufficient ppp? Give you a handshake, her hawk
please you're, free to emu any time. For any reason. George George S, beautiful this letter to me, sums up charge the generosity, the kindness, the wisdom and also a dash of humor talking to him just makes feel better. Writing is the way I make sense of almost everything in my life and its talking to writers, thus giving me comfort right now so I'm going to keep doing this every week have conversations with writers I admire about this moment wherein writers who are over the age of sixty in particular they've been around awhile, I figure they might have some wisdom for me
It's my new show sugar calling thank you so much, you're talking to me. I carry you in my heart all the time and I hope you and Paula are well and Now you can listen to my entire conversation with George Saunders by subscribing to sugar, calling wherever you get your podcasts, take care and be well.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-15.