[Ads-l] Quote About Asimov

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 8 11:30:41 EST 2017

Thanks Fred and Bill (and many others). After a delay of a couple
years I have now created an entry on this topic for the Quote
Investigator website:

I Had a Writing Block Once. It Was the Worst 20 Minutes of My Life


[Begin acknowledgement]
Great thanks to Fred Shapiro whose mailing list inquiry led QI to
formulate this question and perform this exploration. Special thanks
to Mark Carson who pointed to the pair of “Dangerous Visions” books
and identified Andrew J. Offutt and Harlan Ellison as candidates. Many
thanks to S. M. Colowick who located the 1982 “Starlog” citation.
Additional thanks to discussion participants Ivan Van Laningham, John
Cowan, Michael J. Lowrey, Dennis Lien, and Bill Mullins. Also, thanks
to the volunteer Wikiquote editors.
[End acknowledgement]


On Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 2:19 PM, MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY
RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at mail.mil> wrote:
> I posted the following on another list:
> **********block quote begins**************
> Fred Shapiro is an email friend and is the author/editor of the Yale Book of Quotes.
> http://yalebooks.com/book/9780300107982/yale-book-quotations
> He is researching a quote about Isaac Asimov: "He had writer's block once. It was the worst ten minutes of his life."
> He's found it in print from 2005, but wonders if it can be found earlier than that, or in an earlier form, or in reference to another writer.
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2017-January/145808.html
> Here is a variant in reference to Robert Silverberg in 1982:
> http://lists.project-wombat.org/pipermail/project-wombat-project-wombat.org/2014-April/011016.html
> And something similar from andy offutt from _Again, Dangerous Visions_ (1972)
> http://lists.project-wombat.org/pipermail/project-wombat-project-wombat.org/2014-April/011022.html
> So, the question is:
> Can anyone antedate IN PRINT the Asimov variant before 2005, the Silverberg variant before 1982, or any variant prior to 1972?
> **********block quote ends**************
> And got the following response from Robert Silverberg:
> "I believe the first time I broached this joke was at the 1956 Milford writers' conference, where a bunch of the elder gods -- Sturgeon, Kornbluth, del Rey, Klass -- were talking about their writer's blocks, and one of them asked me if I had ever had one, and in a diabolical moment I said something like, "Yes, it was a Tuesday afternoon last March." I see that I have rung various variations on this over the years.
> RS"
> So, not a print cite useful for YBQ, but some first-hand historical background.
>> ----
>> There is a great quote about Isaac Asimov, which Wikiquote presents as follows:
>>   *   He had writer's block once. It was the worst ten minutes of his life.
>>      *   Attributed to Harlan Ellison<https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Harlan_Ellison>, quoted in Page Fright : Foibles and Fetishes of
>> Famous Writers (2009) by Harry Bruce
>>      *   Variant: Most writers hate to write, and will grasp any excuse to do something else ... There are exceptions. Isaac Asimov actually was
>> never happier than sitting at a keyboard - first, his old typewriter; then, the TRS-80< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80>; and
>> later, a more conventional PC. But then, Isaac was unusual, and his experience with writer's block was the worst 10 minutes of his life.
>>         *   Jerry Pournelle< https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jerry_Pournelle>, in "Chaos Manor: Is there an Upgrade in your future?" in
>> Dr. Dobb's Journal : Software Tools For The Professional Programmer (2005), Vol. 30, Issues 374-379, p. 9
>> Can anyone point me to earlier evidence for this witticism?
>> Fred Shapiro
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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