Mar. 8, 1999

The Writer

by Richard Wilbur

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: March 8, 1999

Poem: "The Writer," by Richard Wilbur, from New and Collected Poems (Harcourt Brace).

Today is INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY, a day that's been celebrated all over the world since 1910. March 8 was later established as the official date because it was the anniversary of two protest marches in New York City—one in 1857 by women textile workers, and one in 1908 when over 15,000 women marched through the streets shouting their slogan, "Bread and Roses"—the symbols of better wages and shorter hours.

It was on this day in 1965 that the first U.S. combat troops in VIETNAM, about 4,000 Marines, went ashore at Da Nang in South Vietnam in a mission to protect U.S. air bases in the area.

It was on this day in 1917 that riots broke out in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) over the shortage of food, beginning the RUSSIAN REVOLUTION.

It's the birthday of KENNETH GRAHAME, born 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland, author of the children's book The Wind in the Willows with its characters Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad, and it's famous line, "There is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

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
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