You pages — ten of you — you are the dribble cup — you are the cloth to wipe up the vomit.


We read many books.

Some stand out, way ahead from the others.

I listed my Top 11 in a posted titled Books, Books, Books back in 2012. Is it possible to even have a Top 5, or a Top 10 or Top 100 top books list?

Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Grapes of Wrath, was #1 on my short list.

Steinbeck kept a diary while he wrote The Grapes of Wrath. It was published as “Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath.”

Maria Popova wrote a must-read post yesterday titled: How Steinbeck Used The Diary as a Tool of Discipline where she describes the book as a “remarkable living record of his creative journey, in which this extraordinary writer tussles with excruciating self-doubt but plows forward anyway, with equal parts gusto and grist, driven by the dogged determination to do his best…his daily journaling becomes a practice both redemptive and transcendent.”  Here’s a Steinbeck quote from the post:

I don’t know whether I could write a decent book now. That is the greatest fear of all. I’m working at it but I can’t tell. Something is poisoned in me. You pages — ten of you — you are the dribble cup — you are the cloth to wipe up the vomit. Maybe I can get these fears and disgusts on you and then burn you up. Then maybe I won’t be so haunted. Have to pretend it’s that way anyhow.

I reflected on Steinbeck’s thoughts. Two conclusions came to mind.

1) Steinbeck had doubt. Me and Steinbeck. SympaticoMisery loves company.

2) Steinbeck had doubt. Steinbeck, STEINBECK, had doubt. I don’t stand a chance.

If you are writing, building or creating anything and have doubts, this post is worth your time: Don’t miss: How Steinbeck Used TheDiary as a Tool of Discipline.

And yes, I bought the book.



  1. He is great, I love what he writes. “The sole substance of genius is the daily act of showing up and and how he wrote everyday whether his words were good or not.” He had amazing discipline and why are all the great writers filled with self-doubt!?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looking forward to reading it — thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i see it differently. if steinbeck had doubts, then when we have doubts, it shows that we are human, not less than –

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read Steinbeck’s journal many years ago. I was on retreat at a Catholic monastery to plow through the first draft of a novel. Mornings, I wrote. Afternoons, I read. Evenings, I wrote again. It was torture, but I had great company.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a huge fan of Popova and Steinbeck. I will check it out. Thanks for highlighting their work and directing me to them. I can always use a little direction.;)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I need to read more. Your encouragement is encouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Christie says:

    David, thank for this post it sparked in my the need to read a bit about John Steinbeck’s life. My book list continues to grow after finding your .com page 🙂 Such a phenomenal photograph. Amazing subject, amazing photographer.I love black and white photos.. To me the look on Steinbeck ‘s face (in above photo) is pensive, gentle, caring & approachable .I think that beside being so good at recording in his minds eye, initially, the influencing experiences he lived. He must have also been willing to listen and engage in conversations with people showing a trusting, sincerity… I think he saw himself as a man who didn’t esteems himself better than another. He did have doubt and he suffered from depression..”Steinbeck remembers decades later, “and write little stories and little pieces and send them out to magazines under a false name and I never put a return address on them…I wonder what I was thinking of? I was scared to death to get a rejection slip, but more, to get an acceptance.” (Valjean, 43) His body of work became a social treasure…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Christie says:

    Again, thank you. 🙂


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