May 18, 2012

Depressing Advice to a Graduating John Steinbeck

(via BCMatthews)
Yesterday, I offered my non-advice for recent grads.  This morning I came across this letter from John Steinbeck to his creative writing professor at Stanford (via the endlessly fascinating Letters of Note):












I wonder whether you will remember one last piece of advice you gave me. It was during the exuberance of the rich and frantic twenties and I was going out into that world to try to be a writer.

You said, "It's going to take a long time, and you haven't any money. Maybe it would be better if you could go to Europe."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because in Europe poverty is a misfortune, but in America it is shameful. I wonder whether or not you can stand the shame of being poor."

It wasn't too long afterwards that the depression came down. Then everyone was poor and it was no shame any more. And so I will never know whether or not I could have stood it. But surely you were right about one thing, Edith. It took a long time—a very long time. And it is still going on and it has never got easier. You told me it wouldn't.



HAPPY FRIDAY YINZ GUYS.

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