Apr. 26, 1997

In Praise of ABC

by Nancy Willard


Today's Reading:"In Praise of ABC" by Nancy Willard from SWIMMING LESSONS, published by Alfred A. Knopf (1996).

The ten-day New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival begins today.

In St. Leonard, Maryland the Southern Maryland Celtic Festival begins, featuring a Scottish fiddling championship and bagpipe competition.

It's the anniversary of the first multiracial elections in South Africa in 1994, which brought Nelson Mandela to the presidency.

It's the 60th anniversary of the Guernica Massacre in 1937, when the ancient Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain was bombed by German planes.

It's the birthday of novelist and short-story writer, Bernard Malamud (THE NATURAL), born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1914.

It's the birthday of physicist and seismologist, Charles Francis Richter, a developer of the Richter Scale for measuring the magnitude of earthquakes. He was born in Ohio in 1900.

It's the birthday of the novelist and screenwriter Anita Loos (GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES), born in Mount Shasta, California, in 1893.

It's the birthday of the man who designed New York's Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1822.

Artist and naturalist John James Audubon (BIRDS OF AMERICA) was born on this day in Haiti in 1785.

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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