Recommended reading
Today!

Harvesting stories

Flowers and hills  Corrary Farm

From Words Are My Matter by Ursula K. Le Guin:

"Gary Snyder gave us the image of experience as compost. Compost is stuff, junk, garbage, anything, that's turned to dirt by sitting around a while. It involves silence, darkness, time, and patience. From compost, whole gardens grow.

"It can be useful to think of writing as gardening. You plant the seeds, but each plant will take its own way and shape. The gardener's in control, yes; but plants are living, willful things. Every story has to find its own way to the light. Your great tool as a gardener is your imagination.

Corrary Farm

"Young writers often think -- are taught to think -- that a story starts with a message. That is not my experience. What's important when you start is simply this: you have a story you want to tell. A seedling that wants to grow. Something in your inner experience is forcing itself towards the light. Attentively and carefully and patiently, you can encourage that, let it happen. Don't force it; trust it. Watch it, water it, let it grow.

Polytunnels  Corrary Farm

Organic vegetables

"As you write a story, if you can let it become itself, tell itself fully and truly, you may discover what its really about, what it says, why you wanted to tell it. It may be a surprise to you. You may have thought you planted a dahlia, and look what came up, an eggplant! Fiction is not information transmission; it is not message-sending. The writing of fiction is endlessly surprising to the writer.

Corrary Farm  turf-roofed office

"Like a poem, a story says what it has to say it the only way it can be said, and that is the exact words of the story itself. Why is why the words are so important, why it takes so long to learn how to get the words right. Why you need silence, darkness, time, patience, and a real solid knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar.

"Truthful imagining from experience is recognizable, shared by its readers."

Howard in the yurt cafe  Corrary Farm

I urge you to read Le Guin's lovely essay in full. You'll find it here in Words Are My Matter, from the good folks at Small Beer Press.

Welcoming committee

Words: The passage above is from "Making Up Stories," published in Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life & Books by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer Press, 2016); all rights reserved by the author's estate. The poem in the picture captions is from Circles on the Water by Marge Piercy (Knopf, 1988), all rights reserved by the author.

Pictures: Corray Farm on Scotland's west coast, near Glenelg, photographed on a trip up to the Hebrides three years ago. (Gracious, has it really been that long?) Pictured here are the farm's polytunnels (with the tiny figures of Charles Vess, Karen Shaffer, Irene Gallo and Greg Manchess), its turf-roofed office, Howard reading in the yurt cafe, and the four-footed welcoming committee. Some day we'll all be able to travel again...and I would very much love to do so in the same company.

Comments

Wise words, of which Ursula had many to share, and wonderful memories of shared times together in your pictures.

She was so right, bless her. The seed of the book I'm working on now was planted more than 30 years ago, at an exhibition of French paintings at the National Gallery in DC.

I'm very much looking forward to the day I have caught up with homeschooling and can begin Steering the Craft.

Certainly sharing with my students doing h2 chemistry tuition tampines. Hope they can plant their own seeds soon too.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)