Feb. 17, 2000


by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: February 17, 2000

Poem: "Solitude" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850—1919).

It’s the birthday of novelist Chaim Potok [HIGH-em POE-tok], born in the Bronx, New York City (1929). When he told his mother he wanted to spend his life writing stories, she responded, "You want to write stories? That’s very nice. You be a brain surgeon, and on the side you write stories." His novel The Chosen (1967) won the Pulitzer Prize

It’s the birthday of Andrew Barton Paterson, the Australian journalist and poet. He was a World War I correspondent and the author of several books of light verse including The Animals Noah Forgot (1933). He’s best known for "Walt zing Matilda," adapted from a traditional verse, which became Australia’s national song.

It’s the birthday of Irish-American editor and publisher Samuel Sidney McClure, born in County Antrim [AN-trim], Ireland (1857). He organized the first syndicated newspaper in the United States, the ‘McClure Syndicate’ (1884), and later founded McClure’s magazine (1893), the most controversial muckraking journal of its time.

It’s the birthday of entrepreneur Montgomery (Aaron) Ward, born in Chatham [CHAT-um], New Jersey (1844), who came up with the mail-order system of merchandising. While a young man, he was a salesman in rural Michigan, selling to financially strapped farmers who grumbled about the mark-up costs on the goods he sold them. This experience prompted his idea of ordering goods direct, by mail: customers could buy lower-cost items direct from the warehouse through catalogue orders they sent in from home. He issued his first catalogue in 1872—a single sheet of paper offering 150 items.

It’s the birthday of Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laennec, born in Quimper, near Brittany (1781), the "father of thoracic medicine" who invented the stethoscope.

It’s the birthday of Thomas Robert Malthus, born in The Rookery, near Dorking, England, author of the Essay on Principle of Population. Malthus was pessimistic about the future because of the natural tendency for the population to increase faster than the means of subsistence.

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  • “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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