Autobiography of a Writer by Victor Villaseñor


When I started school I was five years old, really little, and my teacher looked tall and huge and I thought she knew everything because of all the books she had on her desk and how she'd open them up and read all these great stories to us.

Then in the third grade, we went on an outing to the library and there were all these books on the tallest shelves I'd ever seen. By the sixth grade I knew that book writers were giants, every bit as big and strong and wise as Superman. In high school, we found out that one of these giants was John Steinbeck and in college, I found out that he was also one of the most important writers of his generation, was world famous, respected far beyond movie stars and other celebrities because his writing touched the human soul.

So what does it mean for me to become the Inaugural John Steinbeck Chair of Hartnell College and the National Steinbeck Center —it means that this little kindergarten kid has finally been recognized after forty years of writing to be one of those people whose has also touched the human soul. Because to be associated with John Steinbeck, a fellow Californian, is like a dream come true. To think of Of Mice and Men and Lennie gives me goosebumps. To think of Grapes of Wrath and that family's struggle and kindness in the face of poverty, hunger and desperation gives me hope for all of humanity. To read To a God Unknown about a man whose love of the land is his spirituality, is to know that John Steinbeck is a universal writer of great importance.

It doesn't matter what religion we belong to, what politics we believe in, a writer like John Steinbeck helps bring us closer together by uplifting our souls, healing our hearts and bringing forth our humanity.

I'm still in kindergarten, little, and looking up at giants, and so it truly surprises me, kind of shocks me, to see that people now look up to me.

Me, a little nobody who still can't read very well even today.

So if I can do it, then we all can do it. Lennie, I'm your brother -I just got a little lucky. God bless you John. God bless us all.