So you can read my books

Thursday, August 5, 2021



I am not a successful writer.  It looks as if I never will be. 
But being a Sci Fi/Fantasy writer,

I thought how fun it would be to exchange letters with John Steinbeck when he was a struggling writer in the Depression
So here is the exchange --  (530 words)
{John Steinbeck - 1931}

Pacific Grove
December 1930

Dear Roland -

     What a stupendous thing Samuel McCord has done for me.  In his presence I reflected how might the struggling author 100 years from now compare to my own starving state. 

     And as a 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.

Thank you for your letter. I am sorry I must answer it from memory.

     Tillie Eulenspiegel, the Airedale, has puppies, as sinful a crew as ever ruined rugs.
     Four of them found your letter and ate all of it but the address. I should imagine they were awed by the address if I had not learned that they hold nothing in reverence.
     At present they are out eating each other, and I must try to remember the things I should answer. 

 I am daily expecting to receive both of my novels back. That will be a blow but I don’t see how I can escape it.
     My work is improving, I think— and eventually I shall be able to dispose of all of it, but this is rather a long period of waiting, don’t you think?
     Yesterday we bought two mallard ducks for the garden. The drake has an irridescent green head. They are beautiful. They swim in the pond and eat the bugs in the garden.
     We are pretty excited. They cost our amusement quota for this month but are worth it. Named Aqua and Vita. Carol hated to go to work this morning and leave them because they are so interesting.
     They do not ever step on the plants— just edge between on their big clumsy feet. They very promptly caught and ate the goldfish, but we don't care.

      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. 

     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.
The other day I asked a young friend to read a story, and he felt that he should criticise because that was what one did to a ms.
     So he tore a pretty nice story to pieces and showed me how to do it.
     It was funny because he hit all the places which are simply matters of opinion and tore up some of the nicest writing I have ever done.
     Such things reassure one in the matter of believing critics.
     Has that ever happened to you?  How do you deal with criticism of your work, Roland? 
     Do you ever feel guilt for putting those you love and who love you under such strain from the clinging to your dream?
      That is all I can think of. If there was more to be answered it is in the stomachs of those khaki-colored devils in the garden.
     They are eating the fence now. The appetite of a puppy ranks with the Grand Canyon for pure stupendousness. I am very grateful to you for your interest. 
     Has Man grown kinder by 2021?  Or is the human heart withered by all it has endured?

     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. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors. I have no ideas as to say anything to Steinbeck. My mind does not work that way. I hope all is well for you.

    Being a famous writer has more to do with having your work promoted and writing for a specific audience. We all have to consider what our writing means to ourselves. Fame is not necessarily the best end.

    1. Yes, Ann, fame has destroyed many a writer, hasn't it? So good to see you back here! :-)