August 19, 2015

Wednesday Writing Wisdom (21) John Steinbeck





“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”



John Steinbeck
(1902 - 1968)
Curious facts about:



For awhile, Steinbeck tried to make a go out of a writing career in New York City, but it just didn’t pan out for him. He was working full time as a construction worker and could only find some passing work as a newspaper reporter. Steinbeck decided to take a job in Lake Tahoe as a caretaker and that’s when he wrote his first novel in his spare time. He didn’t receive any decent reviews of his first novels, however, and didn’t find any real commercial success until 1935.


When it was first published, The Grapes of Wrath was banned by certain libraries. The book was burned in several districts, with censors citing coarse language, references to sex, and anti-establishment tones as the reason for its suppression. The suggestion that capitalism could result in poverty and forced migration was considered sympathetic to communism.


Steinbeck hand-wrote all his manuscripts---in pencil---on lined yellow paper. Steinbeck used as many as 60 pencils each day. The pages were then typed out by staff at Viking Press, his publisher. According to Steinbeck's own records, East of Eden took one year of uninterrupted writing, 25 dozen pencils and about 36 reams of paper to complete.


For a time, Steinbeck and his first wife, Carol Henning, kept two mallard ducks in the fishpond of their California home. Unfortunately, the ducks, named Aqua and Vita, were later sold so the couple could afford writing paper for Steinbeck’s manuscript, To a God Unknown. 

8 comments:

  1. I remember reading so many of his books in school. I can't imagine writing books out in long hand, or the fact that an author of his stature would have needed to sell the ducks to buy paper. It just goes to show that even the brightest had to struggle at first. Amazing!

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    1. For me it was no wonder about writing in long hand. All my books are written like this, in the first draft!
      A great mind and brilliant writer.
      Thank you for visiting, Mae!

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  2. His quote is so very true. I also admired John Steinbeck. His writing uncovered such sorrow and yet hope and undaunted spirit. Several transferred into good movies too.

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    1. Of Mice and Men the 1968 version left me in tears. I saw it almost thirty years years later, after reading the novel and yet it moved me as much. Or The Winter of Our Discontent with Donald Sutherland in the main lead.His novels are food for thought type, in my opinion.
      Thanks for dropping by, Flossie!

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  3. Wow, that's amazing Carmen. I don't think I've written a book long hand since I was a teenager. Computers really spoiled me. But I do still love cracking open a fresh notebook and scribbling ideas and notes about my WIP inside!

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    1. Yes, and I keep all those pages in a separate stack, even if it takes a lot of space. Ans I write only on one face of the sheet toi be able to insert additions or notes. I know it's double work but. . .

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  4. This is exactly what I've told my children for eons, Carmen. I love this quote! :)

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    1. It's true, Mary. Sometimes this is all we need - an idea, a thread and then all goes easier.
      Thanks for dropping by!

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