Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck, Robert DeMott
Steinbeck wrote his Pulitzer Prize winning novel [b:The Grapes of Wrath|4395|The Grapes of Wrath|John Steinbeck||2931549] in an exhausting period of intense creativity from June to October 1938. During that period and for some time thereafter, he kept a journal in which he wrote before he started work each day. Steinbeck set out what he expected to achieve on that day and recorded his hopes, dreams and frustrations. He repeatedly expressed his determination to make the book a good one, but also his fear that it wouldn’t be. Steinbeck reported on bouts of depression and anxiety and his deep feeling of inadequacy about his writing. In the aftermath of publication of the book, he recorded the disturbing effect its extraordinary success had on his life. This book includes a comprehensive introduction and each of Steinbeck’s journal entries, annotated by editor Robert Demott.

Steinbeck sent the journal to his editor and friend Pat Covici in 1950. He wrote:
Very many times I have been tempted to destroy this book. It is an account very personal and in many instances purposely obscure. But recently I reread it and only after this time did the unconscious pattern emerge. It is true that this book is full of my own weaknesses, of complaints and violence. These are just as apparent as they ever were. What a complainer I am. But in rereading these became less important and the times and the little histories seemed to be more apparent … I had not realized that so much happened during the short period of the actual writing of The Grapes of Wrath - things that happened to me and to you and to the world.

Steinbeck asked that the journal not be published during his lifetime and that it be made available to his children if they should ever want “to look behind the myth and hearsay and flattery and slander a disappeared man becomes and to know to some extent what manner of man their father was.”

This book provides an amazing insight into the creative process and into Steinbeck’s mind. It is a testament to his steadfast determination to make The Grapes of Wrath the best book it could be. Highly recommended for Steinbeck fans.