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Suzan-Lori Parks

Pulitzer Prize for Drama

I went to her (the English teacher) and she said, you know, in that advisory thing that you do when you're about to graduate from high school, and she said, "What are you thinking of studying in college, Miss Parks?" and I said, "I'm going to study English. I want to be a writer." I was all excited. And she looked in her grade book, and I got all these F's in spelling, and she said, "I don't think it would be a good idea for you to be a writer because you're such a poor speller." Probably not the advice one would give today, because of spell-check, but back in the day, that was the prevailing wisdom, as they say. I was brought up to say "Yes, ma'am" and "No, ma'am" and "Yes, sir. No, sir." Respect of elders and whatnot. So I said, "Yes, ma'am. Okay. Well, I'm not supposed to be a writer because I'm a poor speller." Fortunately, I was really good in science, and I was really good in physics. I used to ace my physics tests. So I thought, "Well I'll just be a scientist." But what you love comes back to you. So I ended up in writing.
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Suzan-Lori Parks

Pulitzer Prize for Drama

I had to take a secretarial course because I was not a fast typer. So I learned to type a million words a minute. It was amazing. So I had been doing that, those day jobs, and writing, writing, writing at night. Writing my plays at night, and hanging out in various places and volunteering my work. Like, "I'll help clean your theater," I said to one group of folks, "Just so I can be around you guys, I'll be the janitor team." Lots of young, up-and-coming artists do that sort of thing. Didn't have a desire to go to graduate school, because I'd had James Baldwin as a teacher. I touch my forehead because it's like he gave me a kiss on the forehead. I had James Baldwin as a teacher, and I didn't feel that I needed to enroll in another academic program, but I needed to do the work.
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Suzan-Lori Parks

Pulitzer Prize for Drama

I worked on it. Draft, draft, draft, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite for like four years, sat in front of my computer one day and said, "This is not working." Threw out everything that wasn't working, threw out all the plot,. It wasn't like The Scarlet Letter at all. So I threw out the plot, threw out all the characters. I got down to two things. One was a character named Hester, and one was the title, Fucking A. I threw out Hester, kept the title, and I heard a voice in my head, "What about my play?" and I said, "You're not " Hester says, "What about my play?" I say, " I'm cutting you because you don't work. It doesn't work. So I'm cutting everything that doesn't work." She says, "Oh yes, yes, yes. I have a play," and in five seconds, I had the whole story of a play. I knew that play wasn't called Fucking A. "So what's the name of your play?" She said, "In the Blood." I said, "Oh." So I very quickly was able to write a play called In the Blood which is about Hester La Negrita and her five children by five different fathers.
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Suzan-Lori Parks

Pulitzer Prize for Drama

I have writer's block all the time, but I write anyway. I have difficult days all the time, but I haul myself up. I think that's very important. Some folks think that if you have some success in a field that it's been Easy Street, a level road all the time. We can even look at people like Lance Armstrong. He has to ride up all those hills to win his prizes. We all do. We're all in the Tour de France every day. We're all like that. Folks coming up in the arts, or in any kind of profession should know that all of us are climbing mountains every day. Yeah, I have writer's block all the time, but I write anyway. I don't mind, like, "Oh, this is crap!" I don't care. I can make it better, 'cause I rewrite, and then I make it better.
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Linus Pauling

Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Peace

In the third term of my freshman year, when my mother was no longer sending me money, I was able to make 25 dollars a month -- which was barely enough for me to get by with -- by working 100 hours a month chopping wood and cutting up quarters of beef for the girls' dormitory. Chopping wood for the wood burning stoves in the kitchen of the girls' dormitory and cutting the beef for them and mopping the kitchens every night. And, in order to do this, to work 100 hours a month at a job for 25 cents an hour and to keep up with my studies, it was necessary that I not waste any hours during the day. So, I think I developed the habit of working.
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Linus Pauling

Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Peace

I was asked to speak at the honors convocation at Washington University in St. Louis. During the preceding months there had been additional information released about damage done by radioactivity from testing of nuclear weapons, and by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. So, my talk was about that. It got a tremendous response from the audience when I said, "We have to stop the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere because hundreds of thousands of unborn children and people now living are being damaged." So with two other professors, Barry Commoner and Ted Condon, I decided to write a petition. The next day we met, each of us had written a version of the petition, and I think mine was, essentially, the one selected by the three of us. We sent immediately, mimeographed it, and sent it out to 25 scientists that we knew. They all sent it right back, signed. So then I got back to Pasadena and my wife and I and some of our students and other people in the lab got busy and sent out hundreds of copies with the names of these first 25 signers -- or perhaps there was twenty-five, the three of us and 22 others. And, within a month or two I had 2,000 signatures from American scientists which I presented to Dag Hammarskjold. Scientists from all over the world began signing this petition. Originally, it was a petition by American scientists, but then it became a petition by world scientists. I think it was about 9,000 signatures that I gave, my wife and I gave to Dag Hammarskjold and ultimately, about 13,000 scientists all over the world had signed this petition. So, that had a great effect and I think even on President Kennedy because a couple of years later he gave a speech about a need for a treaty limiting bomb testing and of course pretty soon this treaty was made.
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Shimon Peres

Former President of Israel

I started to work day and night, listening to all walks of life in our economy, and there were three or four things that I learned immediately, that in a democracy, you have two groups of decision making: the political parties -- they are good for politics -- and the economic partnership, which is detached from politics. The economy is not being run by parties, but by three factors in the society: government, employees, and employers. So leave the parties aside and try to see if you can reach an agreement among the three. Don't be in a haste to declare a plan, and then discover that one or two are against it. It will be extremely difficult to do so, particularly if the demands are very, very heavy.
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Shimon Peres

Former President of Israel

Now, every important decision has to go through a long avenue of disappointments, of setbacks, of troubles. I am totally unimpressed. I would be surprised if it would go smoothly. Somebody said, "You are as great as your crawl." If you want to achieve something important, you have to fight and crawl for it under very uncomfortable conditions and circumstances. And then again, when you win a war, your people are united and applaud you. When you make peace, your people are doubtful and resentful. To negotiate peace is to negotiate with your own people, not with your opponent, and your own people say, "My God, why did you give up so much? Why were you in a hurry? Why didn't you think this and that?" Well, if you think this and that, and you won't to be in a hurry, still you have to pay the price, because peace has a price as war has a price. The difference is that the price of war is unavoidably accepted. The price of the cost of peace cannot be measured.
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