Dec. 11, 1996

The Old Words

by David Wagoner


Today's Reading:"The Old Words" by David Wagoner from COLLECTED POEMS 1956-1976, published by Poetry Miscellany.

It's the birthday of novelist Thomas McGuane (THE SPORTING CLUB; THE BUSHWACKED PIANO; NINETY-TWO IN THE SHADE), born in Wyandotte, Michigan, in 1939.

Novelist and poet Jim Harrison (LEGENDS OF THE FALL) was born on this day in Grayling, Michigan, 1937.

It's the birthday of classic blues shouter Big Mama (Willie Mae) Thornton, born in Montgomery, Alabama, 1926.

Short story writer Grace Paley was born on this day in Bronx, New York, 1922.

It's the birthday of Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1918, who was sentenced to eight years of hard labor when censors intercepted a letter with criticisms of Josef Stalin. He later wrote about the labor camps in his book ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH.

Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz (CAIRO TRILOGY: PALACE WALK; PALACE OF DESIRE; SUGAR STREET) was born on this day in Cairo in 1911.

It's the birthday of cartoonist Marjorie H. Buell, creator of comic strip character Little Lulu, born in Philadelphia, 1904.

On this day in 1882, the first performance in a theatre lit by electric lights took place at Boston's Bijou Theatre.

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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