Another in a series of accounts by John Steinbeck’s wife, Elaine, of his perpetual search for the perfect writing space. This bright idea came of his frustration at one point of a writing room which had no sound insulation and therefore no privacy.

But his alternative, while apparently perfect, had its own drawbacks.

‘What to do?  First of course something or other that was bound not to work at all: he made himself a writing room in the back seat of his Ford Station Wagon. This involved the most complicated preparation: padding the seat to fit his body, building and attaching a folding desk, concocting little spaces for dozens of pencils, writing pads, and reference books. Finally it was done. Now he would rise early, drive four miles to the Atlantic Ocean, park in some select spot on the beach, unpack his carton of hot coffee, and write – or as it turned out – not write.  In the first place the beach and the sun and the sea were too distracting. ‘They lured me,’ he said.  In the second place, everybody walking the beach stopped by to visit.’

For earlier places – arguably more successful than this one – see also where it all began; his comment on the house they moved into soon after their marriage; his dual purpose use of a writing room; his moving between two spots in one property; and his preferred writing technology.


Source: Elaine Steinbeck, Foreword, The Grapes of Wrath (London: Mandarin Paperback, 1995), p. vi

Photo credit: melkhagelslag and andreas160578 at

Quotation - Elaine Steinbeck on John Steinbeck's writing space


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest