Weekly Writer Wisdom: Ursula K. Le Guin’s National Book Award Acceptance Speech (November 28, 2017)

After learning that Ursula K. Le Guin, my all-time favorite author, had recently published a new book of essays, I was inspired to go back to her speech at the 2014 National Book Awards, where she was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. It’s so well crafted and full of truth about writing and publishing that I thought readers would enjoy it as well. Plus, at just under 6 minutes, it’s fairly short. Enjoy!

(Look for this week’s #WeeklyWriterWisdom questions after the jump.)

This Week’s Questions: In her speech, Ursula talks about how readers in the near future will “need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.” In your opinion, what recently published authors and/or stories fit this description? What novels have you read this year that have opened your eyes because of the issues they address, the insights they offer, or the overall artfulness (quality of writing, imagination, characters, etc.) of the work? Do you hope to achieve something similar with your own writing? What other thoughts did you have while watching Ursula’s speech?

Follow #WeeklyWriterWisdom at the blog on select Tuesdays. Feel free to spread the wisdom and creative energy by reblogging this post, writing your own post on this topic, or sharing the quote image on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

10 thoughts on “Weekly Writer Wisdom: Ursula K. Le Guin’s National Book Award Acceptance Speech (November 28, 2017)

  1. Thanks for this, Sara! Educational, as always. My lesson for today is that I’ve been mispronouncing ‘LE GUIN’ all these years, as ‘LE GYNE’ rather than ‘LE GWIN’. Not that I’ve ever said it aloud much. One consequence of a life led so much through books is that I know and can spell a lot of words I’ve never heard pronounced aloud. Audiobooks could be an antidote to that.

    I like Ursula K. Le Guin’s sincerity and quiet passion, though not all her sentiments. I don’t admire ‘literature’ over popular culture and don’t covet the prizes of the ‘so-called realists’. I also have a higher regard for Capitalism, though, like most things, it is a good servant but a bad master. Nor do I see art as necessarily opposed to commerce. I DO like her phrase about ‘realists of a greater reality’, which reminds me a little of C. S. Lewis’ efforts over half a century ago to enhance the status of SF and Fantasy at a time when neither enjoyed even the popular esteem they have today.

    I think of my own writing as aimed at popular success, a combination of ambition and modesty in my case! Not that there’s a self-consciously ‘literary’ writer inside me trying to get out. When I want to make a serious non-fiction point I generally do so directly, such as in comments like this. Nonetheless a message or two did creep into my current WIP when I wasn’t looking!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Completely understandable that you might not agree with everything UKLG says. She’s always had strong opinions about certain aspects of writing and the publishing industry (among other topics), and she’s not afraid of sharing those opinions, either. This just happens to be another reason why I admire her so much: I might not agree 100% with her, but she words her thoughts so intelligently (and sometimes with a biting wit) that you can’t help but pay attention and think about the topic at hand more deeply.

      Liked by 1 person

    • UKLG is a very thought-provoking writer. It’s one of the many reasons why I admire her: not only does she write beautifully, but intelligently. She’s a thinker, and her stories compel readers to think more deeply as well.

      And I like your choice of Suzanne Collins. You’re thinking of the Hunger Games Trilogy, right? Those books have some interesting observations on power, government machinations, and the extremes of reality TV. By that last bit, I remember reading the first book and thinking that the Games was Panem’s version of Survivor, except more violent… and how scary it would be if a show along that lines actually existed.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Sunday Post – 3rd December 2017 | Brainfluff

  3. My choices are Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. The first two are so well written. I love the prose in both and am now a fan of both authors. All three focus on issues of racism and other social issues prevalent in society today.
    Great discussion question.

    Liked by 2 people

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