Ursula K. Le Guin

Literary Birthday – 21 October – Ursula K. Le Guin


Ursula K. Le Guin was born 21 October 1929 and died 22 January 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin Quotes on Reading and Writing

  1. Writing is my craft. I honour it deeply. To have a craft, to be able to work at it, is to be honoured by it.
  2. The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.
  3. The book itself is a curious artefact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.
  4. Write. Revise. If possible, publish.
  5. If you want your writing to be taken seriously, don’t marry and have kids, and above all, don’t die. But if you have to die, commit suicide. They approve of that.
  6. The idea that you need an ivory tower to write in, that if you have babies you can’t have books, that artists are somehow exempt from the dirty work of life — rubbish.
  7. While we read a novel, we are insane—bonkers. We believe in the existence of people who aren’t there, we hear their voices… Sanity returns (in most cases) when the book is closed.
  8. We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel… is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.
  9. Rewriting is as hard as composition is — that is, very hard work. But revising — fiddling and polishing — that’s gravy — I love it. I could do it forever. And the computer has made it such a breeze.
  10. When I’m writing I don’t dream much; it’s like the dreaming gets used in the writing.
  11. It helps to remember that the goal is not to write a masterpiece or a bestseller. The goal is to be able to look at your story and say, Yes. That’s as good as I can make it. And then, once in a while, none of that sweat and trial and error and risk-taking is necessary. Something just comes to you as you write. You write it down, it’s there, it’s really good. You look at it unbelieving. Did I do that? I think that kind of gift mostly comes as the pay-off for trying, patiently, repeatedly, to make something well.
  12. It takes quite a lot of vigour and stamina to write a story, and a huge amount to write a novel.

Ursula K. Le Guin was an American author. Her work often depicted futuristic or imaginary worlds alternative to our own in politics, natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality and ethnography. She won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award several times. Her novels included the series, The Earthsea Cycle, which begins with A Wizard of Earthsea, and The Left Hand of Darkness, which won the Hugo and Nebula awards.

by Amanda Patterson

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