Nov. 17, 1996

The Circle on the Grass

by Jane Kenyon

SUNDAY 11/17

Today's Reading:"The Circle on the Grass" by Jane Kenyon from OTHERWISE, published by Graywolf Press (1996).

It's the birthday of film director Martin Scorsese (TAXI DRIVER; RAGING BULL), born in Flushing, New York, 1942.

Writer and historian Shelby Foote, author of THE CIVIL WAR: A NARRATIVE and narrator of the PBS Civil War series, was born on this day in Greenville, Mississippi, 1916.

Grace Abbott, who led reform efforts to crack down on unfair child labor practices in this country, was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, 1878.

It's the anniversary of the 1734 libel case that set a standard for freedom of the press in the American colonies. Printer and journalist John Peter Zenger was arrested and charged with libel for criticizing the governor in his newspaper. Zenger won his case in court.

American religious martyr Anne Hutchinson was born in Alford, England, in 1591.

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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