Ursula Le Guin

I only discovered Ursula Le Guin’s writings after she passed recently, and I've found her views to be incredibly rich and inspiring—what an amazing person. 

This interview is worth a read, highlighting the breadth and depth of her intellect. 

If you need an introduction:

Named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress for her contributions to America’s cultural heritage—the author of more than sixty books of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, children’s literature, drama, criticism, and translation—she was one of only a select few writers (the others being Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth) to have their life’s work enshrined in the Library of America while still actively writing. She joined the likes of Toni Morrison, John Ashbery, and Joan Didion in receiving the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation, and her work garnered countless awards: the National Book Award, the PEN/Malamud, six Nebulas, six Hugos, and twenty-one Locus awards among them. Her name regularly appeared on the Nobel Prize for Literature short list, and writers as varied as Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie, David Mitchell, and Zadie Smith herald her as an influence.    

On imagination and justice:

As Ursula once said in an essay accompanying the 500-year-anniversary edition of Thomas More’s Utopia: We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.”

On her distinctive approach to her craft:

I hear what I write. I started writing poetry when I was really young. I always heard it in my head. I realized that a lot of people who write about writing don’t seem to hear it, don’t listen to it, their perception is more theoretical and intellectual. But if it’s happening in your body, if you are hearing what you write, then you can listen for the right cadence, which will help the sentence run clear. And what young writers always talk about—“finding your voice”—well, you can’t find your own voice if you aren’t listening for it. The sound of your writing is an essential part of what it’s doing. Our teaching of writing tends to ignore it, except maybe in poetry. And so we get prose that goes clunk, clunk, clunk. And we don’t know what’s wrong with it.

On battle metaphors:

I do try to avoid saying “the fight” for such and such, “the war” against such and such. I resist putting everything into terms of conflict and immediate violent resolution. I don’t think that existence works that way. I’m trying to remember what Lao Tzu says about conflict. He limits it to the battlefield, where it belongs. To limit all human behavior to conflict is to leave out vast, rich areas of human experience.