Nov. 11, 1996

An Upward Look

by James Merrill

MONDAY 11/11

Today's Reading:"An Upward Look" by James Merrill from A SCATTERING OF SALTS, published by Alfred A. Knopf.

Today is Martinmas, the Feast Day of St. Martin of Tours, born around 316.

Today is also Armistice Day, now called Veteran's Day, celebrating the anniversary of the armistice between Allied and Central Powers.

It's the anniversary today of the 1940 Great Armistice Day Blizzard in Minnesota that killed 59 people, many of them deer hunters.

Kate Smith first sang "God Bless America" during her regular radio broadcast in 1938.

It's the birthday of Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, in Mexico City, 1928.

Comedian Jonathan Winters was born on this date in Dayton, Ohio, 1925.

It's the birthday of novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE), born today in Indianapolis, Indiana, 1922.

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky (HOUSE OF THE DEAD; CRIME AND PUNISHMENT; THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV), was born on this day in Moscow, 1821.

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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