Feb. 16, 1997

The Way I Write

by William Stafford


Today's Reading:"The Way I Write" by William Stafford from PASSWORDS, published by HarperPerennial.

It's the birthday of novelist Richard Ford (THE SPORTSWRITER; INDEPENDENCE DAY), born in Jackson, Mississippi, 1944.

Historian George F. Kennan (RUSSIA LEAVES THE WAR; MEMOIRS), an authority on the Soviet Union, was born in Milwaukee on this day in 1904.

It's the birthday of radio ventriloquist and comedian, Edgar Bergen, born in Chicago, in 1903. His sidekick, Charlie McCarthy, was with him from the time he was high school.

Writer and teacher I.A. Richards, an advocate of Basic English, was born on this day in Sandbach, England, in 1893. He once said, "It takes only 400 words of Basic to run a battleship; with 850 words you can run the planet."

Van Wyck Brooks, biographer of Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry James, was born on this day in Plainfield, New Jersey, 1886.

Charles Taze Russell, founder of the International Bible Students Association, later to become Jehovah's Witnesses, was born in Pittsburgh in 1852.

It's the birthday of historian and author Henry Adams, author of the nine-volume HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (1889-91) and his Pulitzer Prize winning autobiography, THE EDUCATION OF HENRY ADAMS (1918). He was born in Boston in 1838.

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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