Nov. 18, 1996

The Moment

by Margaret Atwood

MONDAY 11/18

Today's Reading:"The Moment" by Margaret Atwood from MORNING IN THE BURNED HOUSE, published by Houghton Mifflin.

National Children's Book Week begins today.

The first push-button-button telephones went into commercial service on this day in 1963 in Pennsylvania.

It's the birthday today of Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood (THE HANDMAID'S TALE; THE ROBBER'S BRIDE), born in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1939. In CAT'S EYE she wrote, "We thought we were running away from the grownups, and now we are the grownups."

Songwriter Johnny Mercer ("Come Rain or Come Shine," "Autumn Leaves," "Jeepers Creepers") was born in Savannah, Georgia, 1909.

Eugene Ormandy, former conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, was born in Budapest, Hungary, on this day in 1899.

It's the birthday of writer Clarence Day (LIFE WITH FATHER), born in New York City, 1874.

Mark Twain published his first piece of fiction on this day in 1865. THE NEW YORK SATURDAY PRESS printed his short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

It's the birthday of playwright W. S. Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan, born in London in 1836. His lyrics from the H.M.S. PINAFORE: When I was a lad I served a term As office boy to an Attorney's firm, I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor And I polished up the handle of the big front door. I polished up that handle so carefullee That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

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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