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‘In 1963 Steinbeck told Caskie Stinnet: “I wrote ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ in one hundred days, but many years of preparation preceded it. It took a hell of a long time to get started. The actual writing is the last process.”
Though Steinbeck actually wrote the novel in ninety-three sittings, it was his way of saying that Grapes of Wrath was an intuited whole that embodied the form of his devotion. The entire 200’000 word manuscript took upto 165 handwritten pages (plus one smaller sheet) of a 12×18″ lined ledger book. When he was hot, Steinbeck wrote fast, paying little or no attention to spelling, punctuation or paragraphing. On top of that his script was so small he was capable of cramming over 1300 words onto a single sheet.’
– Introduction to The Grapes of Wrath  

If you haven’t read the introduction to ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, then I suggest you do. It’s filled with very important facts on how the novel came to be written. Everything seemed to be sparked by a moment of inspiration, the genesis of it was driven purely by the need to chase down and live to the very core of this unique event. The mere thought of writing a 200’000 word manuscript in just over 100 days is an incredible feat. More amazingly, almost every word he wrote was published exactly as he wrote it. No wonder I love his writing so much. It’s raw and it comes from the heart. True novelists write about what they know, what they’ve lived. They aren’t afraid to have life show through the bones of their work.