Art, activism, and the soil we grow in
Tunes for a Monday Morning

Coffee, cows, the writing craft, and the larger reality

Tilly under the oak

To end a week reflecting on social/environmental/political concerns in the making of art and the writing of fantasy, I'd like to turn to the words of Ursula K. Le Guin, who has been walking this ground for many years, and building masterworks upon it.

From "A Few Words to a Young Writer":

"Socrates said, 'The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.' He wasn't talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.

"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."

Cows under the oak

From Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story:

"To make something well is to give yourself to it, to seek wholeness, to follow spirit. To learn to make something well can take your whole life."

Bovine neighbors

From her National Book Award acceptance speech, November 2014:

''Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom -- poets, visionaries -- realists of a larger reality.''

Coffee break among the cows

Go here for a podcast in which Ursula discusses language, writing, and the new, updated edition of Steering the Craft.

Water and hound

Coffee and wildflowers by the stream Pictures above: Morning coffee beside the stream (before the rain began), with Tilly on one side of our favorite oak and bovine neighbors on the other.