L is for… Le Guin on Writing (The Wave in the Mind) (Book) #AtoZChallenge

L is for… Le Guin on Writing (The Wave in the Mind) (Book)


This book has been knocking around on my shelf unread for a while too. The Wave in the Mind by Ursula K. Le Guin has the subtitle: Talks and Essays on The Writer, The Reader and The Imagination.

Once again I am led back to thinking that writers don’t half write about writing. This is one of the things that interests me most. It seems like there is a need to explore why we write.

I had a quick flick through last night and Ursula writes about a variety of topics, reading, writing, feet!!

I’ve decided just to pick a few select quotes and note what I thought when I read them.

‘…I tried to figure out what was troubling me. I did it in writing because I think best in writing.’ (p.152)

I feel this way too and wondered how true this is of writers in general. In fact this was one of my arguments for looking at doing online data collection rather than face to face interviews.

She talks, as others do about multiple meanings in texts and that there is no one way to read something explaining that is depends on who is reading/writing, ‘what their relationship is, what society they live in, their level of education, their relative status, and so on.’ Books aren’t there to simply disseminate information or facts. ‘They are full of meaning and of meanings.’ (p.187).

I wonder if this is true of the writer’s relationship to their writing too?

In an essay called A Matter of Trust she says ‘In order to write a story, you have to trust yourself, you have to trust the story, and you have to trust the reader.’ (p. 223)

•    You have to have trust and confidence in yourself as a writer – to do this you need to write.
•    You have to be prepared to lose control when in the composition phase (control comes in planning and revision)
•    In terms of trusting a reader she talks about dancing with them, not attacking them. Trusting them not to give up if your first line isn’t perfect.

I wondered whether getting to this state of trust links to engaging in writing being better able to support our health and wellbeing. I don’t think I have point one yet. I can definitely lose control in the composition phase but struggle to regain in when editing. I hope I trust the reader.

In The Writer and the Character she talks about characters starting to ‘have a life of their own, sometimes to the extent of escaping from the writer’s control and doing and saying things quite unexpected to the author of their being.’ (p.235)

Oh yes this happens – they do things like get themselves killed when you aren’t expecting it too.

Ursula says the question she gets asked most is where do your ideas come from. A comment I’ve heard lots about books are, I don’t know how they thought of that,  how odd. It made me wonder about openness. Are writers just more in tune with their thoughts and feelings, even the dark ones that some people repress?

In Old Body Not Writing Ursula lets out a secret, writing is hard work, it is challenging. She describes being in ‘a kind of trance state that isn’t pleasant or anything else.’ (p.283). To me this is interesting because of discussions about occupational flow and its link to health and wellbeing. This ‘trance state’ doesn’t really sound like flow so there must be something else to explore here. This is one chapter I want to read in detail.

The final chapter is an extended poem The writer on, and at her work – I’m just going to pick a very tiny portion of it to conclude.

‘So if I am
a writer, my work
is words. Unwritten letters.
    Words are my way of being
human, woman, me.

That certainly set waves going in my mind, especially the pause on the word being – what about yours?


By MG_FX – from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1418313 (used with permission)

Posted on April 13, 2013, in April A-Z Challenge, Book Reviews, OT/Lecturing/PhD Reviews, PhD and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I didn’t realise she’d written such a book. Sounds like a great read!

    I tend to ‘puzzle out’ my troubles in writing, too – online journal – ’cause it has always bee my best method of sorting stuff out.

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