The Grapes of Wrath & Writing Advice from John Steinbeck

The chimes of the grandfather clock just announced it is three-quarters through the 8 o’clock hour. I have been working all day long, making up for some of those relaxed days in Mexico last week. I will be keeping this writing to exactly 20 minutes, including the photo and the posting. Ray asked me not to write late tonight since we have another big day tomorrow. So…

I have been working with one of my high school students on The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. We finished the book this week and we read the final few pages together, which are some of the most touching in the entire book. Just in case you still plan to read this exceptional book, I won’t give away the ending. But I can say that in a very creative and completely organic way, Steinbeck demonstrates the deeply felt humanity of the Joad family. I read those last passages and felt tears well up in my eyes.

I read a piece the other day about John Steinbeck’s insecurities about The Grapes of Wrath. He had no idea if the book was any good or not; wasn’t sure it would find a market at all. However, he felt compelled to write it and forced himself to work every day to get it done. He kept a journal while he was writing the novel in which he poured out his worries and fears and thoughts. I have found the journal to be quite comforting since he writes of all the feelings every writer I know – including me – experiences. His big contention was just sit down and do the work. He also has this famous quote, which makes me laugh: “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” Clearly, Steinbeck had an excellent sense of humor.

The clock is tolling nine o’clock. I must hurry to find a photo to go with this blog before 9:05. Wish me luck!

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