When I think of Ursula Le Guin, I think of the word ‘fierce.’ Not the growling, posturing, in-your-face kind of fierce, but the quietly determined, undeniably intelligent kind of fierce. She was so smart and so ready and able to contradict those fools who chose to insist that the world and those who live in it were something they were not.
I knew her work before I knew her, and like everyone I know I was in awe of her writing. I only got to meet her about five years ago. She lived part-time just down the road from me on the Oregon Coast, and she came to a gathering of writers and readers at Get Lit at the Beach as a Special Guest. She was given a key to the city of Cannon Beach in recognition of her long time residency and many contributions. She was gracious in her acceptance and warm in her praise of the community.
The next morning, in a panel of writers, I saw her verbally dismember another writer for insisting on how good writing had to be done. I remember thinking how glad it wasn’t me she was addressing.
Her passing is a terrible loss. We will miss her, all of us who care about books and writing. We have too few brave voices, and she was one of the most important. Wherever she is now, I expect she will continue to prove this.