A middle-aged Octavia E. Butler looking off into the distance.

Octavia E. Butler’s Notes to Self

Today happens to be the birthday of Octavia E. Butler, one of the greatest sci-fi authors of all time (and one who deserves to be named as an SWFA Grand Master). I often share quotes from authors here, but since it’s Butler’s birthday I’m going to go a different direction and share some images of the colorful and inspirational messages Butler left to herself in her private notebooks. They’re a fantastic glimpse into her mind, and perhaps these can serve as an inspiration for our own creative work.

This is just a handful of notes left by Butler. Upon her death, she bequeathed her extensive archives to the Huntington Library, which is where the images above are taken. They have loads more, with Butler’s notes on specific work as well. It’s worth checking out.

If you haven’t read any of her work you should fix that! I’d recommend starting with Kindred which remains a poignant time travel tale, or consider the Xenogenesis trilogy starting with Dawn. It’s unlike any science fiction tale I’ve read before. I’ve also heard great things about The Parable series, the first of which is The Parable of the Sower, and while I own both books, they’re still on my TBR pile. I’m hoping to get to the first a little later this summer.

The Hill We Climb

“The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it—if only we are brave enough to be it.”

Amanda Gorman

Earlier today, Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States of America, took his oath of office on the U.S. Capitol Building steps. One of the guests who spoke was 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, America’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. A recording of her reciting her poem, The Hill We Climb, can be view above. It’s a stunning piece of verse that confronts the tumultuous experiences of the last several weeks and hints at the possibility of a new start and a fresh beginning. For me, it was one of the highlights from the whole ceremony, and I’m glad to know it’ll go down in the annuals of American history.


Featured Photo: Amanda Gorman ’20, the first Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, is pictured in Harvard Yard at Harvard University. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer – Found over on PBS.

Jean Paul Sartre

The Absurdity of Their Replies

“Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

Douglas Adams

An Awful Lot

“It takes an awful lot of time to not write a book.”

Douglas Adams

I have never featured a quote by Douglas Adams here on my blog, so I wanted to rectify that today. Arguably, Adams’ most famous quote observes the whooshing noises deadlines make as they pass, but I wanted to go in a little different direction and find something a little less well-known.

I liked the implied question here. It gave me pause, and I found myself in a moment of personal reflection. As writers, it’s important to give ourselves grace (especially in 2020). Still, I think it’s equally important to reflect on how we’re managing our writing and being honest about where we’re putting in an effort.