May 11, 1997


by Robert Hass


Today's Reading:"Sonnet" by Robert Hass from SUN UNDER WOOD, published by Ecco Press.

Today is Mother's Day, first observed back in 1907 at the request of Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia.

The Magnolia Blossom Festival takes place today in Magnolia, Arkansas

Today is the birthday of writer Stanley Elkin, author of 17 books including GEORGE MILLS (1993). He was born in Brooklyn, New York, 1930.

It's the birthday in Far Rockaway, New York, 1918, of theoretical physicist Richard Phillips Feynman, whose most innovative work was the development of the "Feynman diagrams" of particle behavior, a practical way to diagram the interactions of particles.

It's the birthday of writer Mari Sandoz, whose Great Plains series of books includes the classic biography, CRAZY HORSE. She was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, in 1894.

Today is the birthday of Irving Berlin, born in Russia in 1888. His family came to the United States when he was five years old and settled on New York's Lower east Side. Among the 1,500 songs he wrote are: "Blue Skies," "Easter Parade," "White Christmas," "God Bless America," and "There's No Business Like Show Business."

Jazz cornetist and bandleader "King" Joseph Oliver was born on this day in Abend, Louisiana, in 1885. He died in obscurity while working as a poolroom marker in New York City in 1938.

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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