Jun. 22, 1998


by Barbara Ras


Today's Reading: "Childhood" by Barbara Ras from BITE EVERY SORROW, published by Louisiana State University Press (1998).

It was on this day in 1940 that FRANCE SURRENDERED TO GERMANY. Eight days earlier, the Germans had marched into Paris and French President Petain requested a truce with Hitler. The papers were signed in the same old railroad car used in 1918 for the WWI armistice, a document that punished Germany. Returning there was a deep humiliation for the French.

Two years later on this day, in 1941, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the INVASION OF RUSSIA. It was the largest military operation in history at the time, 121 divisions attacking a 2,000-mile front from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and it caught the Soviets completely by surprise.

It's the birthday in 1906, Englewood, New Jersey of writer and aviator ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH. She's best known for two books: North to the Orient (1935) about flying over Canada and Kamchatka to pioneer routes to Asia; and Gift from the Sea (1955), eight autobiographical essays inspired by different kinds of seashells, dealing with love and marriage, youth and old age.

It's the birthday in Sucha, Austria, 1906, of filmmaker BILLY WILDER, who fled the Nazis in 1933 and came to work in Hollywood, starting off as a screenwriter. The first picture he directed was in 1942, The Major and the Minor, and over the next 40 years produced, directed, or wrote movies like Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Stalag 17, The Apartment, and Sunset Boulevard.

It's the birthday in Osnabruck, Germany, 1898, of novelist ERICH MARIE REMARQUE, drafted into the army when he was 18 years old, wounded several times in WWI and afterward wrote a novel titled in German, Nothing New in the West, which when it was translated in the U.S. became All Quiet on the Western Front. A brutal story of life in the WWI trenches.

It's the birthday in Norfolk, England, 1856, of SIR H. RIDER HAGGARD, the English novelist best known for the romantic adventure King Solomon's Mines. When he was a young man, Haggard spent six years working in South Africa, then went back to England and started writing novels. The first two failed, but in 1885 he published King Solomon's Mines and it was a huge hit; about the explorer Allan Quatermain who takes Sir Henry Curtis on an expedition deep into Africa to find Sir Henry's brother. They find both the brother and the legendary diamond mines of King Solomon, then make off with some diamonds and return home to split the treasure.

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 »