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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Inspiration from Octavia Butler

I had the privilege of studying with Butler at Clarion West. She probably had the most encouraging presentation of all our teachers. I remember when she came in Sunday to give us her spiel, which was a part of her life story as a writer, no doubt similar to the one you'll find in Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler, "Positive Obsession".

Her story filled us with enthusiasm (although I recall details she doesn't mention here, such as watching "Devil Girl from Mars" galvanizing her to write because she "could write better than that."  I still haven't watched the movie that inspired her. Apparently it's high British camp.

She had an ornery streak, which I enjoyed. When pigeon-holed (even if well-meaning), she'd lash back out. This happened to one poor lad at a reading who tried compliment but limn her work. It's on display in this collection as well as she talks about others have said.

It's a good collection. While she may have "hate[d] short-story writing", they garnered her first awards in her field.

Another essay, "Furor Scribendi" from a Writers of the Future collection, recommends that writers

  1. "Read" the good, the bad, about craft.
  2. "Take classes."
  3. "Write every day."
  4. "Revise... until it's as good as you can make it." Sorry, Heinlein.
  5. "Submit your work."
  6. Forget inspiration.
  7. Forget talent.
  8. Forget imagination
  9. Persist.

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