Jul. 1, 1997

Just Below the Surface

by Jane Hirshfield


Today's Reading:"Just Below the Surface" by Jane Hirshfield from THE OCTOBER PALACE, published by Harper Perennial (1994).

The Aalborg and Rebild Festival begins today in Aalborg, Denmark, the largest celebration of the United States' Independence outside this country.

The Grand Teton Music Festival gets underway today in Teton Village, Wyoming.

It's the birthday today of film director Sydney Pollack (THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY?; TOOTSIE; OUT OF AFRICA), born in Lafayette, Indiana, in 1934.

It's the birthday of novelist and short-story writer Jean Stafford (THE MOUNTAIN LION), born in Covina, California, in 1915.

Blues musician and songwriter Willie Dixon was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on this day in 1915.

English aviator Amy Johnson, who became known as "Queen of the Air" during the 1930s, was born on this day in Kingston upon Hull, in 1903.

It's the birthday of film director William Wyler (MRS. MINIVER; THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES; BEN HUR), born in Mulhouse, France, in 1902.

Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the "Father of Gospel Music," was born on this day in Villa Rica, Georgia, in 1899.

It's the birthday today of novelist James M. Cain (THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE; DOUBLE INDEMNITY), born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1892.

Novelist, playwright, and short-story writer Susan Glaspell was born on this day in Davenport, Iowa, in 1882.

The Battle of Gettysburg, one of the most pivotal encounters of the Civil War, began on this day in 1863 near the small town in southern Pennsylvania that gave it its name.

It was on this day in 1838 that Charles Darwin presented a paper on his theory of evolution to the Linnean Society in London; THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES wouldn't be published for 21 more years (in 1859).

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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