May 19, 1997

From the Manifesto of the Selfish

by Stephen Dunn


Today's Reading:"From the Manifesto of the Selfish" by Stephen Dunn from NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 1974-1994, published by W.W. Norton & Company (1994).

Today is the birthday of screenwriter and director Nora Ephron (HEARTBURN; WHEN HARRY MET SALLY; SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE), born in New York City in 1941.

Food and health writer Jane Brody, was born in Brooklyn, New York on this day in 1941.

It's the birthday of broadcaster James Lehrer, born in Wichita, Kansas, 1934.

Black separatist Malcolm X (Malcolm Little) was born on this day in Omaha, Nebraska, 1925.

Political leader Ho Chi Minh (Nguyen That Thanh) was born in the central Vietnamese village of Kim Lien, in 1890.

It's the birthday of merchant and philanthropist Johns Hopkins, who left the bulk of his fortune to be used in founding a great hospital and university. He was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in 1895.

On this day in 1780, known as The Dark Day in New England, near total darkness descended on the entire Northeast at noon; no explanation was ever found.

It was on this day in 1536 that Anne Boleyn was beheaded for failing to give her husband, King Henry the VIII, a son.

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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