Nov. 2, 1996

Splitting Wood

by Billy Collins


Today's Reading:"Splitting Wood" by Billy Collins, published in POETRY magazine, February 1996.

Today is Sadie Hawkins Day, a tradition started in the Li'l Abner comic strip in the 1930s, as an occasion for women and girls to invite the fellas on a date.

It's the birthday of physicist Melvin Schwartz, the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for his research on neutrinos. He was born in New York City in 1932.

Burt Lancaster (FROM HERE TO ETERNITY; ATLANTIC CITY) was born on this day in New York City, 1913.

Director Luchino Visconti (OBSESSION; DEATH IN VENICE), was born today in Milan, Italy, 1906.

It's the birthday of English mathematician George Boole, born in Lincoln, England, 1815, who helped write modern symbolic logic; his algebra of logic became the basis for digital computer circuitry design.

It's the birthday of the 11th president of the United States, James K. Polk, born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, 1795.

Explorer Daniel Boone was born on this day in Berks County, Pennsylvania, 1734.

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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