“What do I believe in?”

“What must I fight for and what must I fight against?”

Not my words. They’re Steinbeck’s.

I’m so happy to be reading East of Eden finally. I have only read one Steinbeck novel and it is one of my absolute favorites. Of course, that was Grapes of Wrath. What an incredible read. Why it’s taken this long to read another Steinbeck work is a puzzle. Life gets busy I guess.

East of Eden is deliciously dark but also has its bright spots.

This quote spoke to me when I came upon it early on–page 132 of 602.

After posing this intriguing question, Steinbeck goes on to suggest “there are no good collaborations…. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.”

Which made me think of the lonely work of writing.

Good writing requires such solitude that the writer begins to feel almost un-human. At least that’s how I feel. I don’t mind it most of the time because the writing gives me such joy. The rub comes when your spouse, family, friends and colleagues feel neglected. Or perhaps feel you’re not contributing to the greater priority of the day or week.

It helps knowing other writers–great writers–must endure the same challenges and frustrations and somehow overcome it.

This paragraph inspires me to go at it again. Endure the suffering. Have the courage to be alone, and not feel compelled to apologize.

I have to say this, though, in case a student reads this post: Group think has its place. Team work and collaboration can achieve spectacular results. But inventiveness comes from deep within the soul. It comes from a place that takes time and patience and heartburn to reach.

As Steinbeck says, “the free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world…..and this I would fight for…the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected… and I will fight … to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.”

Ah, sweet drama.


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