Monday Motivation: 15 Quotes by Sag Harbor Author John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck Waterfront Park, named after author John Steinbeck, Photos: David Taylor; McFadden Publications, 1939
John Steinbeck Waterfront Park, named after author John Steinbeck, Photos: David Taylor; McFadden Publications, 1939

For today’s Monday Motivation, we look to one of the most beloved Sag Harborites (and he loved the village right back), John Steinbeck.

Born in 1902, Steinbeck is considered one of America’s most well-known authors—penning Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, The Winter of Our Discontent, Travels with Charley: In Search of America and other works. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1940 and a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962.

Upon moving to Sag Harbor in 1955, he fell in love with the countryside, formed friendships with many of the village’s fishermen and frequented Main Street’s Black Buoy and Cove Deli. He even opens his novel Travels with Charley with a scene of him struggling to secure his boat, Fayre Eleyne, in Sag Harbor Cove amidst the raging winds of Hurricane Donna.

Sag Harbor has honored his legacy and contributions to the village, including helping to establish the Old Whalers Festival that evolved into HarborFest, with a plaque on Windmill Beach and the naming of the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park.

Today, we honor Steinbeck by meditating on some of his wise or inspiring quotes, with a bonus funny snippet from a letter asking Marilyn Monroe for an autograph.

“Nothing has pleased us more nor given us more pride than to be considered Sag Harborites.” — a 1962 letter to Sag Harbor Mayor James McMahon

“Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day; it helps. Then, when it gets finished, you are always surprised.”

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” — East of Eden

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

“If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule—a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.”

“There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.” — East of Eden

“A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.” — Travels with Charley: In Search of America

“It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.”

“Try to understand men. If you understand each other, you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”

“When two people meet, each one is changed by the other, so you’ve got two new people.”

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” — Travels with Charley: In Search of America

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”

“The free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.” — East of Eden

“Anything that just costs money is cheap.”

“Now, I get asked for all kinds of silly favors, so I have no hesitation in asking one of you [Marilyn Monroe]. Would you send him [my nephew-in-law], in my care, a picture of yourself, perhaps in a pensive, girlish mood, inscribed to him by name and indicating that you are aware of his existence. He is already your slave. This would make him mine. If you will do this, I will send you a guest key to the ladies’ entrance of Fort Knox and, furthermore, I will like you very much.” — a 1955 letter to Marilyn Monroe

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