Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: freedom

Ursula K. Le Guin on Expanding Possibilities { and Other Important Topics }


Ursula K. Le Guin I don’t know if you know Ursula K. Le Guin—whether you know her writing, fiction and non-fiction

You might have read The Lathe of Heaven

Or, perhaps, The Dispossessed, The Word for World is Forest, or The Left Hand of Darkness

If you haven’t ever read her, use this link to explore more Le Guin

But, I’m going to focus on an article from Maria Popova’s site, Brain PickingsUrsula K. Le Guin on Power, Oppression, Freedom, and How Imaginative Storytelling Expands Our Scope of the Possible.

The first quote from Le Guin that Maria shares is:

“We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.”

Another quote shared by Maria, concerning oppression:

“If it were true that superior people refuse to be treated as inferiors, it would follow that those low in the social order are truly inferior, since, if they were superior, they’d protest; since they accept an inferior position, they are inferior. This is the comfortably tautological argument of the slave owner, the social reactionary, the racist, and the misogynist.”

On what we might have to do to learn what we need to know:

“Are there indeed tools that have not been invented, which we must invent in order to build the house we want our children to live in? Can we go on from what we know now, or does what we know now keep us from learning what we need to know? To learn what people of color, the women, the poor, have to teach, to learn the knowledge we need, must we unlearn all the knowledge of the whites, the men, the powerful?”

And, Le Guin speaking of what she attempts in her writing:

“To me the important thing is not to offer any specific hope of betterment but, by offering an imagined but persuasive alternative reality, to dislodge my mind, and so the reader’s mind, from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live. It is that inertia that allows the institutions of injustice to continue unquestioned.”

And, circling around to the idea in the first quote:

“The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary. Having that real though limited power to put established institutions into question, imaginative literature has also the responsibility of power. The storyteller is the truthteller.”

There are writers who claim the importance of revealing life “just as it is”, with no “moral improvements”—some call them “realists”

Yet, we humans have the real ability (and, responsibility?) to imagine beyond what IS

Perhaps the characters of a story don’t end up total winners or shining exemplars

But, I feel, if they improved their lot, if they struggled to move an inch off their patch of inertia, the story is worth reading.

And, there have been many extremely satisfying stories where the protagonists die at the end; yet, they left a better situation for others

But, to write stories that imaginatively improve on some imagined absolute, to create a story that shows a possible world, a world which some would never reach unless the writer helped them imagine it—this is worthy writing.

And, all that is possible without soapboxes or pulpits.

Perhaps my own motto for worthwhile writing (whether you’re reading it or writing it) is “It doesn’t matter if it was hard, it matters that you did it.”
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Independence, Freedom, and Self-Determination


For thousands of years, most writers have worked alone, then faced the challenge of finding readers.

Indie Authors

Image courtesy of Mateusz Stachowski ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/Mattox

Some, of course, didn’t care if anyone read their work—they’d just had to write it

These days, many folks have the impression that “being a writer” automatically means the person wants to make a living with their authorial efforts.

And, these days, it’s just a bit more likely a writer could make a living with words—if they work awfully hard or happen to catch a genre-wave at the right moment.

If you want some sage information about writers making money, check out the info I reported on in these past posts:

Is The Success of Indie Authors Just A Bunch of Hype?

Making A Living As A Writer . . .

Certainly, self-publishing has enabled more writers than ever before to get their work published—having it read is up to one’s manipulation of the mysterious forces that swirl around the mountain of Book Promotion

Recently, Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, wrote an article called Indie Author Manifesto.

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

“…as any indie author will tell you, the joy of self publishing cannot be distilled to dollar metrics alone.  How does one describe the importance of independence, freedom and self-determination?”

Yes, self publishing will enable more horrible books to be published than ever before, but it will also enable more better books to be published…”

It’s not an exaggeration to describe the indie author revolution as a global cultural movement.”

What does it mean to be an indie author?  I’ve distilled the movement down to ten principles that I think capture the mindset of indie authors.”

I am an indie author

I have experienced the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from self-publishing

I have a right to publish

My creative control is important to me.  I decide when, where and how my writing graduates to become a published book.

Indie does not mean “alone.”  I choose my partners.

I shall not bow beholden or subservient to any publisher. In my business relationships, I seek partnership, fairness, equity and mutually aligned interests.

We indie authors comprise diverse writers unified by a common purpose to advance, empower and celebrate writers everywhere.

I am a professional.  I take pride in my work, and I strive to improve my craft to better serve my readers, myself, my fellow indie authors and the culture of books.

My writing is valuable and important.  This value and importance cannot be measured by commercial sales alone.

I celebrate the success of my fellow indie authors, for their success is mine, and mine theirs.

Together we are pioneering a better future for books marked by greater quality, creativity, diversity, choice, availability, affordability and accessibility.

And, if you like that Manifesto and want one to hang over your writing space, go check out the free download at the end of Mark’s article :-)
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“Leave Me Alone!” ~ Is Unlimited Freedom Good For Us?


I happen to live in what’s called the United States of America but I consider myself a citizen of the World.

The U.S. has always put out the line that it’s a free country…

Most Americans now feel hampered by what the combination of party politics and corporate greed has done to limit true freedom.

But, what is true freedom?

Is it doing whatever the hell you feel like doing?

If that were the case, no one would ever get a ticket for running a red light…

Does true freedom have something to do with working within a structure that helps you release your potential?

As a writer, I need to impose some structure on my creativity. If I didn’t, words the meaning of which when or if then never would sense make exampling for :-)

I’ve even been known to create a scene-by-scene outline for a book and then, as I do the actual creative writing, lacerate the outline, sever its limbs, cut into its flesh, and mutilate its form.

Still, if I hadn’t outlined first, my finished book might have resembled the patch-worked body of Frankenstein.

So, I think the best expression of freedom–freedom to release your maximum potential–comes when you have some basic structure or form established within which to create.

Therefore, I like traffic lights. I even like taxes (the principle of them, not their current distribution). I also like the formal dance of dating instead of the animalistic breeding some folks crave.

What I absolutely do not like is unlimited freedom to do whatever the hell my body and emotions seem to always be demanding of me. Sure, when I was twenty-something, I thought that was what life was all about–get what you can before it’s all gone…

Now, in my sixties, I realize that the most valuable possessions in life come after long, hard work–work done in a way that abides by principles that structure the release of my creativity in ways that have endurance–work that lasts long enough to get me up that mountain of aspiration to the peak of satisfaction–satisfaction that also endures…

Another thing I do not like is political/corporate power structures that beguile with promises of unlimited freedom and deliver mass slavery to cycles of consumption that never quite satisfy, never give lasting peace or security or tranquility…

So, yes: “Leave me alone!” But…

Please do give me the social structures that protect my freedom to create…
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