Quotes, Writing

Ursula K. Le Guin on the craft of writing


Interview Magazine has a new interview with author Ursula K. Le Guin, and it’s a must-read if you’re a writer. Much of the interview concerns the craft of writing, something that Le Guin certainly knows a thing or two about. I’ve just added her recently updated book on writing – Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story – to my Reading List.

Here is an excerpt of the interview, but click on over to Interview Magazine, because the whole thing is definitely worth a read.

SICHA: In the book you return to this idea of writing for art’s sake, which is very much, I feel, out of vogue. We’ve gotten accustomed to talking about money and the commerce of writing and how you should be treated as a writer, and it’s sort of hysterical when you sit back and think about it.

LE GUIN: And there are so many guidebooks to that kind of writing: “How to be a success,” in other words. But I certainly didn’t feel like I had anything to add there, since the way I came into writing was a pretty sure way to not be a success.

SICHA: A few people may talk about the “craft of writing,” but they sound phony. The way you put it is very realistic: that this is an important thing to do if you care about writing.

LE GUIN: The word craft these days has this sort of funny, twee sound, like some little artisan putting the yeast in his handcrafted bread. Craft is how you do something well—anything. You can do anything with craft or with skill, or without it. Writing an English sentence takes a good deal of craft and skill. Writing a good English sentence takes a lot more of it.

She’s such an inspiration for me. Her The Earthsea books, both the old and the new stories, are a great way to get acquainted with her work. Or try her science fiction work, like The Lathe of HeavenThe Dispossessed, or The Left Hand of Darkness.

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