Aug. 15, 1999

As the Ruin Falls

by C. S. Lewis

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: August 15, 1999

Poem: "As the Ruin Falls," by C.S. Lewis, from Poems (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanavich).

Thirty years ago today, 1969, WOODSTOCK started. It was the three-day music festival of Yasgur's Farm near Bethel, New York. About 400,000 people attended.

It's poet MARY JO SALTER's birthday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1954. Her most recent work, a book of poems entitled A Kiss in Space, appeared this spring.

It's the birthday in Burra, Australia, 1949, of the American writer GARRY DISHER. He has written many books, but is best known for his children's books that have come out in the nineties. The Bamboo Flute is probably the most famous; it is a story of a young boy during the Great Depression, whose family is forced to sell the old piano. He meets a drifter who teaches him how to carve a bamboo flute, and he brings music back to the family again.

It's the birthday in Stantonsburg, North Carolina, 1923, of LOUISE SHIVERS whose first novel came out when she was 54 years old. For years she worked on it during her shifts at the County public library of Augusta, Georgia. The name of the book is Here to Get My Baby out of Jail.

It is the birthday of Thomas Edward Lawrence today in 1888. He fought on the side of the Arabs during World War I, and became known as Lawrence of Arabia. He published his account of the Arab Revolt in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Later, Revolt in the Desert came out; it was thought of as the last great romantic war book, and Winston Churchill called it one of the best books written in the English language. Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident near his home in Dorset, 1935.

It's the birthday of SIR WALTER SCOTT, born in Edinburgh, Scotland 1771. He wrote the first historical novels, books like Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, and The Talisman, most of them set in England or Scotland, and published in the 1820s.

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 »