One of my favourite authors, Ursula K Le Guin passed away this week. Amongst many things, she showed me that you have good books and you have bad books, the “genre” of the book doesn’t really matter. So Le Guin is famous for Science Fiction and Fantasy, but mostly I simply treasure her wonderful books. I posted on her writing craft book here, and her on literature as a manual for life.
In her later life, she kept a blog (recent interviews here) which is still a treasure trove and much better than my blog. If only mine could be so rich over time. If you are a fan of cats, then you should read through her blog as though she didn’t write books in her last years, she wrote extensively about her cat. The Annals of Pard.
“As I see it, writing and the arts (and the sciences, and all learning) don’t play a role in ensuring our freedom; they are our freedom — the heart of it.” — UKL. 30 September 2017.
David Mitchell (of Reasons I Jump fame and father of an ASD child, and more famously a novelist) writes about his encounter with her and her influence.
I leave you with her reply to George Zebrowski, who asked her to blurb an anthology of science fiction that contained precisely no women:
"I cannot imagine myself blurbing a book, the first of the series, which not only contains no writing by women, but the tone of which is so self-contentedly, exclusively male, like a club, or a locker room. That would not be magnanimity, but foolishness. Gentlemen, I just don’t belong here."
And her “A Few Words to a Young Writer”
Socrates said, "The misuse of language induces evil in the soul." He wasn't talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.
A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.