Hello, hello, and welcome to the middle of the week, dear readers. If you are feeling a little run down or if Friday is feeling a bit too far away, I encourage you to check out Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event that calls on bloggers share their favorite quotes to inspire and motivate one another.
For my contribution this week, I have chosen a quote from the iconic author, John Steinbeck.
John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.
In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place.
Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer. Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck’s imagination as a child.
In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.
Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. His later body of work reflected his wide range of interests, including marine biology, politics, religion, history, and mythology.
One of his last published works was Travels with Charley, a travelogue of a road trip he took in 1960 to rediscover America. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack and his ashes are interred in Salinas.
Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, The Pearl, and East of Eden, went on to become Hollywood films, and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.
“A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals.”
— John Steinbeck, The Art of Fiction No. 45
Sometimes, I am lonely. It’s not the usual kind of lonely. I don’t just feel like I wish I had companionship or someone to talk to, I wish I could be known. I wish I could share what it is like to be me, unfiltered. To use language, or even art or music feels wholly inadequate. I am lonely inside my own mind. I wish another person could come in and visit, look around, and tell me what they think.
I am loved, and that helps. I am surrounded by people who care about me, listen to me, and think highly of me, and that helps too, but still, I am lonely. I think we all are on some level. I think we all what to be known in a way that is simply humanly impossible. Still, we try. We are all doing our best to communicate what is inside with the other people around us.
But the communicating is hard, and other people feel unreachable.
That’s the things about people. We can be standing right next to one another and feel light years away. Loneliness is not about being physically alone; it is about feeling disconnected from other humans. It’s a deep pain that manifests when we are misunderstood and feel uncared for. It’s when you feel unwanted and useless. It’s when you feel like you are nothing at all to anyone.
I think writing is an act of that deep loneliness, an attempt to alleviate it. I think writers have more to say that the average person and so need more than the average feelings of acceptance and understanding. It’s hard to get that understanding in the here and now, with just the people that we know, so we reach out with our words, across the entire world and forward in time too. We are trying to connect to someone, anyone, anywhere.
I feel like something inside me is pushing to get out. I don’t even know what that thing is, but writing helps it. Writing makes me feel better, though like I’ve gotten a bit of it out. Like I’ve connected. Like a hole somewhere deep inside me has been filled in. Only, the hole is a bottomless one. My loneliness greedy, and soon the drive to write, to connect, consumes me again.
I think all writers possess that same greed, that same emptiness and a need for human connection that goes beyond the usual relationships humans form. A writer must be fully known. A writer must be fully understood. A writer will not accept that one person cannot know another. We keep churning out bits of ourselves, sending them out, and hoping, this time, we got it right.
We hope that this time we have formed the right words and sting them in the correct configuration and the reader will finally see all of who we are and why we are here.
Every time the writer will be disappointed. Humans are not built in a way that makes the accurate expression of our condition impossible, nor can we understand another’s attempts thoroughly.
Fortunately, and sometimes, unfortunately, the writer never gives up.
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Also, check out my review of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
Original image via Pixabay