May 24, 1998

A Noiseless Patient Spider

by Walt Whitman


Today's Reading: "A noiseless patient spider" by Walt Whitman (1818-1892).

It's the birthday in Duluth, Minnesota, 1941, of Robert Allen Zimmerman, who just after graduating high school changed his name to BOB DYLAN. His father ran an appliance store in Duluth, and then another in the northeastern Minnesota mining town of Hibbing where Dylan grew up. He got started playing bars and coffee houses around the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1959, then moved to New York in 1961 when he was 19.

Irish short story writer and novelist William Trevor (THE OLD BOYS; THE BOARDING HOUSE; OTHER PEOPLE'S WORLDS), was born on this day in Mitchelstown, County Cork, 1928.

It's the birthday of Russian novelist Mikhail Sholokhov (AND QUIET FLOWS THE DON), born in Veshenskaya, 1905.

Canadian heart surgeon Arthur Vineberg, whose procedure to implant the left internal mammary artery into the heart wall became known as the Vineberg Procedure, was born on this day in Montreal, 1903.

It's the birthday of pioneer in time-motion studies Lillian Moller Gilbreth, born on this day in Oakland, California, 1878.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook

The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »