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Early in his career, Steinbeck burned the manuscripts of between sixty and seventy short stories that he had written. "I am writing so well now that I don't want the old stories around anymore. They are terrible reminders of where I've come from."

Steinbeck's first novel was revised and published following a snowbound winter as the caretaker of a cabin in Lake Tahoe. During his early career, his manuscript for Tortilla Flat was rejected by numerous publishers. He lost his original manuscript for a novel he later recreated: The Red Pony, and the rewritten version differed from the one he'd lost by only seven words. Steinbeck "wrote" in his mind before committing words to paper; his manuscripts have almost no changes.

Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception."

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