I thought I would pop over to The Writer’s Almanac website and read about things of interest to writers that occurred on April 10th in history. Turns out that the first law in the world regulating copyright was issued in Great Britain in 1710, The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, William Hazlett was born in 1778, Anne Lamott was born in 1954, and Paul Theroux was born in 1941.
Here are some things writers have said about writing:
“Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig.” —Stephen Greenblatt
“I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
“The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
“I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
“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
“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
I discovered a new poet -- new to me, anyway -- at that website. Mary K. Stillwell and I have two things in common, it seems. She is a Texan (at least I think she is a Texan, her poetry having been published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press) and she has lived in Nebraska. I lived in Nebraska in the 1960s when I was stationed at the underground command post at Strategic Air Command Headquarters. She, on the other hand, went to Nebraska to be a university professor, subsequently wrote the first-ever
Although hers is not the sort of poetry that Yorkshire Pudding typically likes, I am going to include a link to two of her poems that have appeared at Writer’s Almanac anyway. The poems are “Moving to Malibu” and “In the Morning in Morocco” (both are from her collection Maps and Destinations) .
Click here to read the two poems.
When I read those poems, one phrase just jumped out at me. It was in the Malibu poem: “I will be as content and as happy as Balboa.”
Really? How does she know how happy Balboa was? More to the point, was Balboa happy? I did know, in that endearing way I know lots of trivia, that Balboa was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean after he crossed the isthmus of Panama in 1513, the same year Ponce de Leon discovered Florida.
I don’t know why I remember such things. I just do. On the other hand, there are probably a lot of things I ought to remember that I just don’t.
Hurrying along, let us now examine this article about the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa carefully to see if we can ascertain just how content and happy he was.
Did you read it?
My conclusion, after reading that article very carefully, is: not very.
But let us assume that Ms. Stillwell knows whereof she speaks and that Señor Balboa was deliriously happy.
Do you know what would make me even happier than that?
If I could tell Mama “Happy Birthday!” one more time.