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Ursala Le Guin Made Time

"If you want your writing to be taken seriously, don’t marry and have kids, and above all, don’t die. But if you have to die, commit suicide. They approve of that.”

—Prospects for Women Writing, speech given in Portland, Oregon, 1986.

Repeatedly tweeting on Twitter these past few weeks has been Ursala Le Guin’s description of her ideal writing day. Her fictive schedule comes from a 1988 interview titled, An Interview with Ursula Le Guin. A.D. 1988., Slawek Wojtowicz asks the question, “Can you tell us how your day time schedule looks like?”

Le Guin responds with:

5:30 a.m. - wake up and lie there and think.

6:15 a.m. - get up and eat breakfast (lots).

7:15 a.m. - get to work writing, writing, writing.

Noon - lunch.

1-3 p.m. - reading, music.

3-5 p.m. - correspondence, maybe house cleaning.

5-8 p.m. - make dinner and eat it.

After 8 p.m. - I tend to be very stupid, and we won't talk about this.

I go to bed at 10:00 p.m. If I'm at the beach there would be one or two long walks on the beach on that day. This is a perfect day for me.

Almost five hours of writing and she still gives priority to thinking, reading, listening to music, eating, and beach walks. Le Guin is lucky to have worked from home, but she also raised a family while her husband was a tenured professor at Portland State.

“To have and bring up kids is to be about as immersed in life as one can be, but it does not always follow that one drowns. A lot of us can swim.”  

--- from Le Guin’s 1989 essay for the New York Times titled, The Hand that Rocks the Cradles Writes the Book.

Le Guin made time for a full life. She saw both motherhood and being a female writer of science fiction as feminist statements. It's in her writing.

“The ex-priestess, Tenar, brings up a girl, found hideously scarred, raped, and abandoned in a camp-fire by a gang of Gontish robbers - when was the last time you found a raped child in a children's story? This is a direct address to the powers of evil; not some night-black bogeyman conjured up by magic, but quotidian, common evil. And a specifically male evil at that. Le Guin has brought feminism into her world, and because she's such a good writer, it's not drum-banging, didactic feminism; it's an examination of root inequality, from why women aren't wizards (they can do piddling little pot-mending spells, capricious love-charms, and that's about it), to why some men won't do the washing-up.” --  Review: The Other Wind


Lezard, Nicholas (2002 July 27) Review of The Other Wind. The Guardian

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