January 6 ~  Writing Is Writing Ragtime Audio Cassette

"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing...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, NY Times, 1985

E. L. Doctorow

Celebrated novelist Edgar Lawrence Doctorow (1931-), known for his historical fiction, was born on this day in New York City to what he said was a "lower-middle-class environment of generally enlightened, socialist sensibility."

A journalist and editor, he published his first novel Welcome to Hard Times in 1961. Mixing autobiography with fact and fiction, he followed with The Book of Daniel (1971), Loon Lake (1980), and Billy Bathgate (1989).

"The writer isn't made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century," he said.

Doctorow writing shines with passionate brilliance and creativity. His most popular novel, Ragtime (1975) was a celebration of the American dream in the early 20th century. The book was adapted to film and the Broadway stage.

"Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go." he said.

The highly-regarded writer has won the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He was honored with the prestigious National Humanities Medal at the White House in 1998.

"He is an enthralling storyteller," praised writer and professor Roger Rosenblatt. "He stands in a line of literature's best storytellers that wends from Homer to Chaucer to Fielding to Thackery, Conrad, Dostoevsky, and Twain and Jack London and Hemingway."

Don't talk about it. Do it.