Feb. 21, 1996

Back from Vacation

by John Updike


Today's reading: "Back from Vacation" by John Updike from COLLECTED POEMS, published by Alfred A. Knopf.

Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent.

Black leader Malcolm X was shot dead on this day in 1965.

President Nixon landed in Peking in 1972, a historic visit which marked the thawing of U.S./China relations.

It's the birthday of writer and poet W.H. Auden born in 1907.

Jazz singer and pianist Nina Simone was born on this day in 1934.

Alice Freeman Palmer, president of Wellesley College at age 27, was born in 1855.

It's the birthday of The New Yorker magazine which first appeared in 1925.

Film critic and writer Pauline Kael was born in 1919.

It's the birthday of French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy.

After 37 years of construction the Washington Monument was dedicated in 1885.

German bacteriologist August von Wassermann was born in 1866.

It's the birthday of film director Sam Peckinpah

famous for his westerns.

Spanish musician Andres Segovia was born on this day.

French-born author Anais Nin was born on this day.

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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