Sep. 23, 1997

Not Waving but Drowning

by Stevie Smith


Today's Reading: "Not Waving but Drowning" by Stevie Smith from COLLECTED POEMS, published by New Directions.

The Jackson County Apple Festival begins today in Jackson County, Ohio.

It's the anniversary of Richard Nixon's 1952 Checkers Speech in which he responded to charges about a secret slush fund. He had been given a cocker spaniel named Checkers, which his daughters loved, and said he would not return it.

It's the 67th birthday of singer Ray Charles, born in Albany, Georgia, in 1930.

Saxophonist John Coltrane, whose quartet was among the most important jazz groups of the 1960s, was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, in 1926.

Physicist Clifford G. Shull, who developed neutron-scattering techniques that improved the way scientists could explore the atomic structure of matter, was born in Pittsburgh in 1915.

Mack Sennet's first Keystone Cop film was released on this day in 1912, COHEN COLLECTS A DEBT.

Sculptor Louise Nevelson, who worked in obscurity until her sixties, was born in Kiev, the Ukraine, in 1899.

Journalist Walter Lippman, a founder of THE NEW REPUBLIC MAGAZINE in 1914, was born in New York City in 1889.

Baroness Emmuska Orczy, author of one of the most popular novels of the 20th century, THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, was born in Hungary in 1865.

In 1779 during a naval engagement in the North Sea, Commander John Paul Jones spoke his famous words, "I have not yet begun to fight," before going on to win a dramatic victory over the British.

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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