On writing: Thank you, Ursula

Though the American holiday of Thanksgiving is long past, there's still a reason for many writers to be thankful, and it has nothing to do with Pilgrims, pumpkin pie, or U.S. history. It's a message for struggling writers, especially those dedicated to fantasy, the supernatural, and all related genres.  Next time you feel a pang when you hear that some high school sophomore has had her first book, about young lovers in a war-torn dystopian world, optioned by Paramount after publishing a few chapters on Wattpad … take heart.

Let Ursula Le Guin slap some sense into you with the speech she gave at the recent National Book Awards ceremony.

Neil Gaiman with Ursula Le Guin at the NBAs

"Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art," she told the audience.  "Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit … is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship."

You can read more of her incandescent plea that's directed at you -- yes, at you, my friends  -- by following this link to the virtual pages of The Guardian.  It's not a long piece, but it packs a powerful, inspirational punch.

And when you're done, I'd ask you to think about that sharp pang of jealousy/frustration that you felt over someone else's incredible luck.  Why does it bother you so much?

Think about what Le Guin says.  Are you part of someone else's marketing plan, or are you a writer?

Do you want a big payday from your writing -- if you do, why not try something else?  Go into real estate … build a stock portfolio … write a TV sitcom… success is more likely in one of these areas.

As for the rest of us, we embrace the scrivener's craft, as A.R. Williams nicely puts it in her recent post here at the Call, to find the grace inside the madness.

And when we manage to find it, there's nothing quite like it in the world.

Onward, my dear friends. Take good care.