Friday, March 7, 2014

Seeing Ursula K. Le Guin at #AWP14: A Legendary Woman, Some Down-to-Earth Realizations

Probably the most tweeted moment at #AWP14
"Are you going to see Ursula Le Guin, today?" Hugh Howey asked me, as he put his arm around my shoulder so my friend could snap a quick photo with my phone.

Yeah, that happened. That was #AWP14. For me it was all about run-ins with legends and heroes, and realizing they weren't all that different from me. Which made me want to aspire to be like them even more. (Does that make sense?)

As I sat in the audience listening to the readings and interview with Ursula Le Guin, I was stuck by many of the profound words she said. And so were others, evidenced by the flurry of Tweet quotes streaming on my phone.

Of course, it was her profane word that prompted my tweet: "Ursula Le Guin just dropped an F-bomb lol." That's how I roll.

But it was more than just me being a perpetual teenager getting a kick out of respectable adults using swear words. Or maybe that was exactly what it was. All I know is her profane word revealed something more than profound to me. She is not above us all, like some Goddess on a mountain top. She's down here with the rest of us. I never felt more kinship with one of my idols than that moment.

She said a lot of great things that day. Just search "#AWP14 Ursula"on Twitter and you'll see some of the most popular. And I was in for another big realization as Ursula Le Guin talked about her early days as a writer. Shockingly, her road was not easy, nor was it unchallenged.

One of her quotes from Twitter: "I didn't care what the men were doing. It wasn't feminism, it was just… taking over." (This is from Twitter so it's probably more paraphrasing than a direct quote).

I was awestruck. Here was a woman, who is now a legend, whose words and ideas are treated like diamond-encrusted-platinum, and yet once upon a time she encountered resistance to her style of writing. But she stuck to her guns and now look where she is.

I love it. I am inspired. The next time someone tells me how SFF "should" be written, or that self-publishing is "invalid" I am going to respond with my own paraphrased quote from Ursula Le Guin. And it won't be one of the profound ones.

©2013 Amanda June Hagarty

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