Photo by Jack Liu
“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.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the most respected and prolific writers of science fiction and fantasy. Last week she announced she would be launching an open consultation or “informal ongoing workshop” on the Book View Cafe, a website she co-founded in 2008.
Le Guin said that she no longer has the stamina to write novels or stories, or to run a traditional workshop, but instead wishes to regain “some of the pleasures of teaching and talking about writing fiction with people who do.”
In the first published answer to a question from an aspiring writer – How do you make something good? – Le Guin provided a 700-word response advising her new student and other readers that “If the ingredients are extra good (truffles, vivid prose, fascinating characters) that’s a help. But it’s what you do with them that counts. With the most ordinary ingredients (potatoes, everyday language, commonplace characters) – and care and skill in using them — you can make something extremely good. A lot of memorable novels have been made that way. Even with undistinguished language and predictable characters, if a story has interesting, convincing ideas or events, good pacing, a narrative that carries the reader to a conclusion that in one way or another satisfies – it’s a good story. A lot of memorable sf [science fiction] has been made that way.” Read the full response here
The site is scheduled to be updated every second Monday. As one might expect, Le Guin has been inundated with questions and the comments function has been temporarily suspected while the first round of questions are responded to. We wait with great interest to see where this fascinating online experiment goes next.
Applications Now Open for the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship
In other Ursula K. Le Guin related news, applications for a $3000 fellowship named in her honour are currently being accepted. The Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship aims is to encourage research in the area of feminist science fiction. Applications for this short-term research fellowship based at the University of Oregon close on 1 October 2015. For full details see the Center for the Study of Women in Society website.