I am reading Steinbeck’s Winter of our Discontent. I like Steinbeck, his East of Eden being my favourite of his books. In fact one of my favourite books by any author.
I googled his books and him and read about his 1962 Nobel Prize for literature. To my surprize, there was a lot of criticism about him getting the Nobel prize. The archives apparently say he was chosen as the best of a bad lot.
“There aren’t any obvious candidates for the Nobel prize and the prize committee is in an unenviable situation,” wrote committee member Henry Olsson.
Reading all this made me realise how even great authors get bad reviews, and people who don’t understand their work. Somehow, I thought the great ones were not vulnerable. They are.
Success in art is weird. I am sure there are brilliant books out there that never get published, or if they do, they sink. There are also not so brilliant books that are successful.
The taste of readers varies, and critics look smarter when they condemn rather than tan praise.
And of course, I am no Steinbeck. My book has good and bad reviews, more good ones so far. Finding out even the great ones get bad reviews helps.
And even if my book sinks, I loved writing it, it helped me to understand my life better, and it gave and continues giving some readers pleasure. If I rewrote it, it would be better, I have learnt a lot since in various workshops, and by writing. I am writing a new novel. I don’t know if it will be better or not. It’s different. Maybe it will be a bestseller, maybe not.
But I know that writing is my new job, a job I love like I loved my job as a doctor. I am lucky.
2 thoughts on “Musing about book success- does it matter? Yes , but it is not the reason I write.”
Steinbeck is in a class by himself. It is a privilege to read a book like East of Eden. Those comments about the prize, for me, suggest little about the rich value of his work. Steinbeck’s description of the spring bloom in Salinas, alone, is worth the price of the book. Enjoy Winter of our Discontent.
I write for the joy and serenity of the process. Sales are icing on the cake. At least I try to convince myself of that.
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Yes. To all. You know, my problem is that I read a lot of authors like Steinbeck Hemingway and many others in Czech translation. I’d love to reread them in original , but there are so many books and so little time!