Jan. 2, 2000

Chapter 44 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, from

by Anonymous

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: January 2, 2000

Poem: from Chapter 44 of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

It's the birthday in Janesville, Wisconsin, 1914, of writer WILLIAM SCOTT, author of the novels The Plowhand (1957), and Red Sunrise (1958), and the poetry collection On My Knees in the Field (1977) — all books that Scott wrote after ending his day on a small, 80-acre farm he worked in southern Wisconsin. He was raised in Minneapolis, but moved as a teenager to the prairie of western North Dakota when his banker-father acquired some dirt-cheap land during the Depression. He said, "I'd take my notepad and pencil out to the windmill at dusk during summer. That sound of the wind in the rusted mill paddles, the water burbling up from Lord knows how deep, and the improbable sunsets — trying to get all those things down right on paper was not only a challenge, but the only recreation open to me."

It's the birthday of JANICE SLEPIAN (SLEP-ee-an), born in 1921, New York City, who didn't get her start until she was done raising her kids and working for years as a speech therapist. She began writing a newspaper column on child psychology, called "Parents Ask," which led to a series of picture books on children with disabilities. After 10 years she enrolled in her first English class and then, at 57, wrote her first novel, The Alfred Summer (1980), which was the beginning of a string of young-adult books, all dealing with handicapped kids and inspired by Slepian's own brother who is retarded. Others: Lester's Turn (1981), The Night of the Bozos, (1983).

It's the birthday of short story writer and novelist LEONARD MICHAELS, born in New York City, 1933. He grew up in the Lower East Side, the son of immigrant Polish Jews, and spoke only Yiddish until he was about five or six years old. His mother introduced him to English when she bought a complete set of Charles Dickens. He said, "If you can imagine a little boy listening to his mother, who can hardly speak English, reading Dickens hour after hour in the most extraordinary accent, it might help to account for my peculiar ear." He's the author of Going Places (1969), and I Would Have Saved Them If I Could (1975).

It's the birthday in Bremerhaven, Germany, 1948 of war novelist LEONARD B. SCOTT author of Charlie Mike (1985), The Last Run (1987), and The Hill (1989).

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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