Tag Archives: writing

Meditations for the New Republic

It has been five days since one of the most divisive, contentious, and baffling elections in the history of America came to a close. Even people on the same side of the fence continue to find ourselves at loggerheads over what happened and what to do next.

Superpower: FREEDOM!
Superpower: FREEDOM! © Lauren Ayer 2014

Since that day my mind has been turning over the results and what they might mean for the world, and what my responsibility will be in our uncertain new republic. Our country has survived the unthinkable many times over and I believe with all my heart that, once again, we will find our way through. Here is what I plan to do:

  • Choose the one thing that matters most and the the most important tools and allies to create, defend, or support it, then devote myself tireless on its behalf. Yes, only one thing–ideally something very specific (think solar power accessibility not global climate change). Otherwise my energy will be divided and i may falter over time. Trust others will attend to what I cannot.
  • Attend to my body’s physical needs. Sleep. Eat nourishing foods. Exercise. Our bodies and minds are the most important tools we have, and this is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • I will do my very best not to be led by pain, hate, or fear. Instead I will follow hope, compassion, and my dreams of a better world. We cannot know what will happen until it does. It is important to recognize and prepare for the worst, but equally important to work toward the best. Fear will not sustain us over the long haul. Only love can do that.
Superpower: LOVE!
Superpower: LOVE! © Lauren Ayer 2013

As for me, this overgrown, neglected garden is the hill upon which I will stand. My tools are ink and paper, needle and thread, this voice, and the art and stories I create with them. My Quest, to sow hope, cultivate resilience and positive action, and inspire others to do the same.

Superpower: GROWTH!
Superpower: GROWTH! © Lauren Ayer 2014

But no one of us can do this alone, and so I invite you to join me. What will your one thing be? What tools will you need? How can I help?

Remembering Freedom

Today, one of my personal literary heroes summed up perfectly something I have been struggling to articulate–about this blog, about science fiction, and in particular apocalypse fiction, about writers and artists in general. About why we are the ones that will save the world.

I think that hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom.

Ursula K. LeGuin

I can’t remember the first time I read Le Guin’s work. Perhaps it was college, in a sci-fi lit class–The Left Hand of Darkness–the only book written by a woman that we read. What I do remember, distinctly, viscerally, was what that book did to me. Beyond the writing, which was stunning, beyond the setting, which was amazing, beyond completely changed the way I looked at gender. And it was this: it opened a door that I didn’t even know had been closed–a door through which I might some day become not just a writer, but a science fiction writer.

She was the first in my triumvirate of strong women sci-fi warriors: Le Guin, Butler, Atwood. In each case, it still astonishes me that it took me so long to find them. In each case, I am incredibly grateful that I did. Within each, I found not just a universe of amazing stories, but dreamers, teachers, activists, and more. And so, of course I was overjoyed to learn that yesterday, author Neil Gaiman presented Ursula Le Guin with a National Book Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award:

In recognition of her transformative impact on American literature, Ursula K. Le Guin is the 2014 recipient of the Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She is the Foundation’s twenty-seventh award recipient.For more than forty years, Le Guin has defied conventions of narrative, language, character, and genre, as well as transcended the boundaries between fantasy and realism, to forge new paths for literary fiction.

Among the nation’s most revered writers of science fiction and fantasy, Le Guin’s fully imagined worlds challenge readers to consider profound philosophical and existential questions about gender, race, the environment, and society. Her boldly experimental and critically acclaimed novels, short stories, and children’s books, written in elegant prose, are popular with millions of readers around the world.

National Book Foundation press release

LeGuin is one of 9 women and only two science fiction authors to win this award which began in 1988. The other was Ray Bradbury (2000).*

Here is her acceptance speech.

* I also want to give a nod to Stephen King who, though he is considered a horror writer, has made forays into the realm of apocalypse fiction and therefore walks the borderlands adjacent to science fiction. He won the award in 2003.