Ursula K. Le Guin

‘If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly,’ Ursula K. Le Guin in The Guardian, 2005.

 

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She inspired many, and will continue to do so, through her stories, and her ideas and how she expressed them.

I have no words for the loss I feel, the loss I felt when I heard of her death. I surprised myself because I didn’t cry when Maurice Sendak died and when David Bowie died, and I know their work better, more fully, and so, shouldn’t I have felt their loss more acutely?

But it is what it is. (Come to that, neither Sendak nor Bowie’s work has ever made me weep.)

Is it too melodramatic to say that a book changed your life? A Wizard of Earthsea changed mine. It made me look at life differently by telling me things that I knew anyway, but in a manner that suddenly made sense. Maybe it was a matter of timing, maybe not. All I know is that book and the others in the series give me hope like nothing else can; and there are some passages I visit and re-visit like medicine because they clear a space and help me breathe and continue breathing.

Thank goodness we have her words although she is gone. Thank you, Ms Le Guin.

I found this list today, from an article by Karen Joy Fowler, written in response to Le Guin’s death. More wonderful words to live by:

1. There is no reason a book of ideas can’t also be deeply moving, gorgeously written, and inhabited by people who take rooms in your heart and never move out.

2. There is no reason a married woman with children can’t also be a committed artist. (This seems self-evident now but wasn’t immediately clear to me.)

3. Write what you want to write. Add as many dragons as you like.

4. You can regret a decision you made in an earlier book and correct it in a later work. (This is a hard one in our unforgiving times, when your previous missteps are eternal and only a google away. But there is nothing shameful in becoming a better person, a wiser person. Done right, it’s pretty heroic.)

5. The values of patriarchy are buried in the very plots of our stories. New plots are needed.

6. Other writers are not your competition. They are your sustenance. Writing is joyous, but never as joyous as reading.

7. Speak up for the books, poems, shows, music, and paintings you love even though you sound smarter and more discerning when you can’t be pleased.

8. There is no reason why your next book can’t be your best yet, no matter how old you are allowed to become.

9. But also, your next book needn’t be your best yet. You could save that for the next next book.

10. And finally—immortality has never worked out well for anyone. Avoid it at all costs. ~ From Ten Things I Learned from Ursula K. Le Guin by Karen Joy Fowler in The Paris Review blog.

‘Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.’ ~ Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

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