Ursula K. Le Guin passed away on January 22, 2018, and through the comment sections of Jenny’s Argh Ink blog, I found Le Guin’s blog, The Bookview Cafe – one that she shared with a lot of writers, mostly women.
The recommended blog post was titled, “Navigation Q1: How do you make something good?” Le Guin started with the very funny (but absolutely practical) advice: “Well, you could start with butter and fresh farm eggs, it’s hard to go wrong from there, unless you are a vegan.” And then she gets serious. Go ahead, take a look if you like. I’ll still be here.
It’s like a little tarot card, this cryptic comment. For me, the butter and fresh farm eggs are real life experiences. (I know – that seems really odd for a writer of fantasy to say. But in order for fantasy to really fly, it needs to be grounded with real-life motives and behaviors. The rest is all caramel sauce or bechamel. Spin that into fairy glass, or stuff it with mushrooms, as you like. Or just make a fried egg in butter, if you don’t like fantasy. A fried egg in butter is one of the most delicious things on earth, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not a vegan.)
If you’ve read the post, then you know how Le Guin spins her metaphor into a textbook souffle – and then gives you permission to ignore those rules if you are making blintzes. That really rang the dinner bell for me. I’m making blintzes, and I should embrace that and make lots and lots of blintzes!
From one egg metaphor to another, I found this page about a book of hers that came out last December from Houghton Mifflin called “No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters”. The table of contents sold me, especially after reading the blog. It’s an old chestnut that, “wow, I’d read her shopping list!” I haven’t read much Le Guin, but her blog posts were very charming. I *would* like to read about her cat, her “crabby old lady” diatribes, and yes, the section titled “The Narrative Gift as a Moral Conundrum” makes me want to search the internet right now and see if it’s on the blog. I’d better wait, though, and get the real book, and take my time.
They call it “dead rock star” effect. It’s sad that it takes a death for me to re-discover what thousands have already known. I might be spending a lot of February, going through Le Guin’s books and other writings. Better late than never, I suppose.