Sep 29, 2012

Doubts from Steinbeck

John Steinbeck
I'm working on a play. This involves a lot of carrying it around in my brain followed by infrequent bouts of getting those thoughts down on paper. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I feel I have something worthwhile in the works. Sometimes it is a joy, sometimes a drudgery.

Today I made very little progress and the whole exercise seemed ridiculous to me. And then I stumbled upon a neat entry on Austin Kleon's Tumblr... excerpts from John Steinbeck's working diary while he was writing GRAPES OF WRATH.

June 18: …I am assailed with my own ignorance and inability. Honesty. If I can keep an honesty to it… If I can do that it will be all my lack of genius can produce. For no one else knows my lack of ability the way I do. I am pushing against it all the time. Sometimes, I seem to do a good little piece of work, but when it is done it slides into mediocrity…

This totally lifted my spirits. I mean, if Steinbeck had bad days, then...

The diary is collected in Working Days: The Journal of The Grapes of Wrath, 1938-1941.

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