So you can read my books

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


{John Steinbeck - 1931}
Pacific Grove
December 1930
Dear Roland -
     What a stupendous thing McCord has done for me.  In his presence I reflected how might the struggling author 100 years from now compare to my starving state. 
     And as Christmas present, he has arranged for us to send letters back and forth.
     How wonderful is that?  I do not mind that I must not inquire what my fate will be.  Judging from my plentiful rejections, I doubt you even know my name.
     I thank you for your own Christmas present in response to my question of what might a bestselling book be like in your time.
     I read only a page or so of The Da Vinci Code. The pages I read seemed to be a hodgepodge of quotations and confusing logic. 
     Brown's words are virtual blunt instruments of prose.  My brain feels positively bruised. 
     And the less said of Miss Meyer's work the better.  Both have been made into films in your time you say?  Times must be harsh, indeed, in Hollywood.
     Christmas broke Carol and me, so that we must live nine days on two dollars and five cents.
     I think we can do it although the last few of those nine may find us living on rice. That doesn’t matter either. It’s rather amusing.  At least I try to tell myself that.
     I have been filled with a curious cloying despair. I haven’t heard a word from any of my manuscripts for over three months.
     It is nerve wracking. I would welcome rejections far more than this appalling silence. My new novel slumbers. I doubt myself. This is a dreadful, crucial time.
     Tell me how your work proceeds.  No particulars on what you are writing as McCord forbids that, just how you find it within yourself to continue when all you receive are rejections.
What would you tell John Steinbeck were you me?


  1. John, Things are indeed terrible in Hollywood, with a few exceptions: There was a black man who wrote about a horrible experience that became a good film called Twelve Years a Slave. And much junk is published while great books linger unread by those who decide such things. Greed is just as bad. Rice and beans are a perfect meal. And, John, one day you will have a dog, his name will be Charley, and you will travel all over, write about it, and make us all smile. ~~ Well, that's what I would say to one of my favorite authors. I can't speak for you, Roland, though, so you must come up with something yourself.

  2. Inger:
    I will pass what you wrote on to him though McCord may edit out the part about Charley -- though I hope he doesn't!

    Much junk was published in John's day as well. He will not be surprised.

    I love TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY as well. I often listen to the audiobook of it when I drive my blood runs. Gary Sinse does a wonderful job on it.

    Thanks on behalf of John. I know he will smile to read that at least one of his books will touch someone's heart. :-)

  3. I've not read much Steinbeck, so it's interesting to hear of a letter exchange. Perhaps that way, I'll learn more about him.

    To John, I'd say:
    Today, some of us still wait for acceptance or rejection letters. But some have tired of that, and have created their own path. It's a time of change and winnowing.

  4. And another vote for Travels with Charley. And relating to an earlier post, I was glad to see someone else who has devoured Robert B Parker.

    To John:
    I say that some things have changed, and many of the important things remain much the same.
    Writers still struggle, often, and spend time living on rice.
    Some good writers thrive, some disappear. Some bad writers, ditto.
    And please John - keep writing. It is an integral part of who you are, and being true to yourself is one of the most important parts of life. At the end of the day, you are the only person you have to live with.
    And then, genuflecting, I would shuffle out, backwards.

  5. DG:
    Another letter comes tomorrow. He was/is an interesting man. :-)

    I think John would be pleased with Indie publishing. The world would have had so many more novels of his, too!

    Elephant's Child:
    Yes, TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY is one of my favorite reads and is my favorite audiobook to listen to.

    When Robert B. Parker died, it was like a personal friend had died. :-(

    I think John knew instinctively what you would write to him. He would laugh heartily at you saying you would genuflect to him. He would wrap his bear arms around you and give you a warm hug. He was down to earth and friendly -- though his face often made him seem otherwise. :-)