Ursula K Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea impressed upon me the idea of words, the essence of words, as magic - as items of power. A brilliant story with a thread of understanding about the world we live in told through a completely other world. It made an impact early enough that I didn't understand "genre" so I could appreciate the work without knowing what I "should" or shouldn't like.
She also over her long career has written insightful pieces on the writing process, (a few words to a young writer, here 1968 rejection letter), creativity and Taoism (she has translated Lao Tzu - saying: “The Tao Te Ching is partly in prose, partly in verse; but as we define poetry now, not by rhyme and meter but as a patterned intensity of language, the whole thing is poetry. I wanted to catch that poetry, its terse, strange beauty. Most translations have caught meanings in their net, but prosily, letting the beauty slip through. And in poetry, beauty is no ornament; it is the meaning. It is the truth".
Here is her talking in 1975 at Worldcon.
Some of this is collected in Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016.
The piece (extracts below) on literature as a manual for life is worth the price of the book alone, if you measure such things in dollars and gold. Neil Gamain's commencement speech chimes although David Ogilvy takes the creativity for business much to Le Guin's despair I expect. The book reviews Le Guin gives are of more interest if you are a Le Guin fan.
The Operating Instructions (talk given at Oregon Literary Arts meeting in 2002)
"A poet has been appointed ambassador. A playwright is elected president. Construction workers stand in line with office managers to buy a new novel. Adults seek moral guidance and intellectual challenge in stories about warrior monkeys, one-eyed giants, and crazy knights who fight windmills. Literacy is considered a beginning, not an end. . . . Well, maybe in some other country, but not this one. In America the imagination is generally looked on as something that might be useful when the TV is out of order. Poetry and plays have no relation to practical politics. ...
... Literacy is so you can read the operating instructions. I think the imagination is the single most useful tool mankind possesses. It beats the opposable thumb. I can imagine living without my thumbs, but not without my imagination. I hear voices agreeing with me. “Yes, yes!” they cry. “The creative imagination is a tremendous plus in business! We value creativity, we reward it!” In the marketplace, the word creativity has come to mean the generation of ideas applicable to practical strategies to make larger profits. This reduction has gone on so long that the word creative can hardly be degraded further. I don’t use it any more, yielding it to capitalists and academics to abuse as they like. But they can’t have imagination. Imagination is not a means of making money. It has no place in the vocabulary of profit-making. It is not a weapon, though all weapons originate from it, and their use, or non-use, depends on it, as with all tools and their uses. The imagination is an essential tool of the mind, a fundamental way of thinking, an indispensable means of becoming and remaining human. We have to learn to use it, and how to use it, like any other tool. Children have imagination to start with, as they have body, intellect, the capacity for language: things essential to their humanity, things they need to learn how to use, how to use well. ...
Through story, every culture defines itself and teaches its children how to be people and members of their people—Hmong, !Kung, Hopi, Quechua, French, Californian. . . .
.... Literature remains comparatively, and amazingly, honest and reliable. ...
...Incoherent and commercialised and worm-eaten ... and hype and blather as it is, electronic publication offers those who read a strong new means of active community. The technology is not what matters. Words are what matter. The sharing of words. The activation of imagination through the reading of words. The reason literacy is important is that literature is the operating instructions. The best manual we have. The most useful guide to the country we’re visiting, life...."
** according to the Nerdist, the Ghibli film didn't use much of Le Guin's source material at all, but it did bring father and son back together again, so there is that.