Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Farewell, Master Wordsmith

Ursula K. Le Guin died today.

I read the Earthsea Trilogy, the only three that had been written, when I was 9-years old. Immediately after I read the Chronicles of Narnia. I didn’t understand what I read. At all.

Things had “true” names. Names have power. The ghost was Ged? Girls walked ancient tombs in the dark. As songs are forgotten people die?

The books were short, like the Narnia books, but they were as deep as the oceans Sparrowhawk crossed. Some in Fourth graders may be ready for the depths, but I wasn’t. I didn’t like them.

As I grew and began a journey into the novels of science fiction and fantasy in earnest, I continued to see her name, but I didn’t read her books. I assumed that because I didn’t like Earthsea, I wouldn’t like anything else by her.

I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn how wrong I was until nearly 20 years later when I bought a book of her short stories on a whim. Suddenly, the beauty of her worlds exploded within me and my expanded. I devoured her books and stories and snippet of writing.

She became one of my beacons. One of the writers I look to for guidance. One whose prose always teaches me.

I wrote her a letter once. I even sent her a copy. She wrote me back.

I never told her that she was an inspiration, though.