Quotes by Octavia Butler

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Most of what I do is science fiction. Some of the things I do are fantasy. I don't like the labels, they're marketing tools, and I certainly don't worry about them when I'm writing. They are also inhibiting factors; you wind up not getting read by certain people, or not getting sold to certain people because they think they know what you write. You say science fiction and everybody thinks Star Wars or Star Trek. more...

Rejections are painful, but inevitable. They're every writer's rite of passage. more...

Humans persecute their different ones, yet they need them to give themselves definition and status. more...

Sometimes, one must become a master to avoid becoming a slave. more...

To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. more...

I think climbing mountains or buildings or whatever has been a really good metaphor for finishing my work. Because no matter how tired you get, no matter how you feel like you can't possibly do this, somehow you do. more...

It's interesting how many science fiction writers get going when they are very young. I was on a program with Greg Bear and he mentioned that he had gotten started writing when he was eight. And I began writing when I was 10. I think we're influenced by the stuff, we find it and we love it and we're influenced by it....I know I collected my first rejection slip when I was 13, and I went on collecting them for a long time after that. more...

Helpless lust and unreasoning anxiety were just part of growing up. more...

Humans said one thing with their bodies and another with their mouths and everyone had to spend time and energy figuring out what they really meant. And once you did understand them, the Humans got angry and acted as though you had stolen thoughts from their minds. more...

Beware At war Or at peace, More people die Of unenlightened self-interest Than of any other disease more...

...I can write my own stories and I can write myself in. more...

The destiny of Earthseed is to take root among the stars. more...

First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won't. Habit is persistence in practice. more...

To get along with God, Consider the consequences of your behavior. Earthseed: The Books of the Living more...

In order to rise From its own ashes A phoenix First Must Burn. more...

Change is the one unavoidable, irresistible, ongoing reality of the universe. To us, that makes it the most powerful reality, and just another word for God. Earthseed: The Books of the Living Lauren Oya Olamina more...

All struggles are essentially power struggles. Who will rule? Who will lead? Who will define, refine, confine, design? Who will dominate? All struggles are essentially power struggles,and most are no more intellectual than two rams knocking their heads together. more...

Most of us don't have to worry about being shot if we poke our noses outside. So we are comfortable, but the people I'm writing about are definitely not comfortable, and being shot while they're still inside is a good possibility. more...

Not everyone has been a bully or the victim of bullies, but everyone has seen bullying, and seeing it, has responded to it by joining in or objecting, by laughing or keeping silent, by feeling disgusted or feeling interested. more...

The only lasting truth is change. God is change. more...

Margaret Weylin complained because she couldn't find anything to complain about. more...

Dad decided not to vote for Donner after all. He didn't vote for anyone. He said politicians turned his stomach. more...

A victim of God may, Through learning adaption, Become a partner of God, A victim of God may, Through forethought and planning, Become a shaper of God. Or a victim of God may, Through shortsightedness and fear, Remain God's victim, God's plaything, God's prey. more...

A tree Cannot grow In its parents' shadows. more...

Civilization is to groups what intelligence is to individuals. It is a means of combining the intelligence of many to achieve ongoing group adaptation. more...

There's no narcotic like exhaustion. more...

Consider We are born Not with purpose, But with potential. more...

We give our dead To the orchards And the groves. We give our dead To life. more...

Life is getting better, but that won't stop a war if politicians and business people decide it's to their advantage to have one. more...

All religions are ultimately cargo cults. Adherents perform required rituals, follow specific rules, and expect to be supernaturally gifted with desired rewards long life, honor, wisdom, children, good health, wealth, victory over opponents, immortality after death, any desired rewards. more...

I'm literate, and the idea of leaving children illiterate is criminal. more...

He was like me - a kindred spirit crazy enough to keep on trying. more...

When your rage is choking you, it is best to say nothing. more...

When I meet a woman who attracts me, I prefer women,' she said. 'And when I meet a man who attracts me, I prefer men.' 'You mean you haven't made up your mind yet.' 'I mean exactly what I said. I told you you wouldn't like it. Most people who ask want me definitely on one side or the other. more...

All that you touch You Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change. God is Change. more...

Civilization is the way one's own people live. Savagery is the way foreigners live. more...

Positive obsession is about not being able to stop just because you're afraid and full of doubts. Positive obsession is dangerous. It's about not being able to stop at all. more...

If there's any single talent a writer needs, it's persistence. If you can keep at your writing and you can learn as you write, you can tell any story you want to tell. more...

I wanted to write a novel that would make others feel the history: the pain and fear that black people have had to live through in order to endure. more...

People who want to write either do it or they don't. At last I began to say that my most important talent - or habit - was persistence. Without it, I would have given up writing long before I finished my first novel. It's amazing what we can do if we simply refuse to give up. more...

The essentials are to learn to shape God with forethought, care, and work; to educate and benefit their community, their families and themselves; and to contribute to the fulfillment of the Destiny. more...

We need the stars... We need purpose! We need the image the Destiny to take root among the stars gives us of ourselves as a purposeful, growing species. We need to become the adult species that the Destiny can help us become! If we're to be anything other than smooth dinosaurs who evolve, specialize and die, we need the stars.... When we have no difficult, long-term purpose to strive toward, we fight each other. We destroy ourselves. We have these chaotic, apocalyptic periods of murderous craziness. more...

Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. more...

I'm trying to speak-to write-the truth. I'm trying to be clear. I'm not interested in being fancy, or even original. Clarity and truth will be plenty, if I can only achieve them. more...

Kindness eases change Love quiets fear more...

Ignorance Protects itself, And protected, Ignorance grows. more...

We're all capable of climbing so much higher than we usually permit ourselves to suppose. more...

Souls! When have you seen your own soul - that you're so certain you have one? more...

Religion is a dangerous prod, because it can always be misused and get out of hand, but it's useful for keeping people on the straight and narrow. more...

Drowning people Sometimes die Fighting their rescuers. more...

That which could hunger, could starve. more...

Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself. more...

The big talent is persistence. more...

You are hierarchical. That's the older and more entrenched characteristic. We saw it in your closest animal relatives and in your most distant ones. It's a terrestrial characteristic. When human intelligence served it instead of guiding it, when human intelligence did not even acknowledge it as a problem, but took pride in it or did not notice it at all... That was like ignoring cancer. more...

The differences you perceive between Humans-between groups of Humans-are the result of isolation and inbreeding, mutation, and adaptation to different Earth environments more...

Listen, no part of me is more definitive of who I am than my brain. more...

I'm a fifty-three-year-old writer who can remember being a ten-year-old writer and who expects someday to be an eighty-year-old writer. more...

I lost an arm on my last trip home. more...

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over. more...

You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. more...

Religion kept some of my relatives alive, because it was all they had. If they hadn't had some hope of heaven, some companionship in Jesus, they probably would have committed suicide, their lives were so hellish. more...

What I'm working on now - I'm back to fantasy, although considering that it's me, I'm turning it into a kind of science fantasy. It's a vampire story - but my vampires are biological vampires. They didn't become vampires because someone bit them; they were born that way. more...

I wasn't trying to work out my own ancestry. I was trying to get people to feel slavery. I was trying to get across the kind of emotional and psychological stones that slavery threw at people. more...

A workshop is a way of renting an audience, and making sure you're communicating what you think you're communicating. It's so easy as a young writer to think you're been very clear when in fact you haven't. more...

I recognize we will pay more attention when we have different leadership. more...

The thing about science fiction is that it's totally wide open. But it's wide open in a conditional way. more...

And by the way, I wanted to point out that Kindred is not science fiction. You'll note there's no science in it. It's a kind of grim fantasy. more...

I have a huge and savage conscience that won't let me get away with things. more...

Once you grow past Mommy and Daddy coming running when you're hurt, you're really on your own. You're alone, and there's no one to help you. more...

Science fiction let me do both. It let me look into science and stick my nose in everywhere. more...

I just knew there were stories I wanted to tell. more...

Most of us don't have to worry about being shot of we poke our noses outside. So we are comfortable, but the people I'm writing about are definitely not comfortable, and being shot while they're still inside is a good possibility. more...

Third, for people who aren't doing it already, take classes - they're worthwhile. Workshops or classes - a workshop is where you do actually get feedback on your work, not just something where you go and sit for a day. more...

Here I was into astronomy, and here into anthropology, and there I go into geology. It was much more fun to be able to research and write about whatever I wanted to. more...

People have the right to call themselves whatever they like. That doesn't bother me. It's other people doing the calling that bothers me. more...

And I have this little litany of things they can do. And the first one, of course, is to write - every day, no excuses. It's so easy to make excuses. Even professional writers have days when they'd rather clean the toilet than do the writing. more...

So fantasy was fine early on, and when I discovered science fiction, I was very happy with it, because my first interest in science fiction came with an interest in astronomy. more...

I was raised Baptist, and I like the fact that I got my conscience installed early. more...

I began reading science fiction before I was 12 and started writing science fiction around the same time. more...

No... a novel is a long business. I'm a slow writer, even when I'm doing very well I write slowly. more...

I would never have been a good scientist - my attention span was too short for that. more...

Well, writing was what I wanted to do, it was always what I wanted to do. I had novels to write so I wrote them. more...

No, I think the future of humanity will be like the past, we'll do what we've always done and there will still be human beings. Granted, there will always be people doing something different and there are a lot of possibilities. more...

Writing is one of the few professions in which you can psychoanalyse yourself, get rid of hostilities and frustrations in public, and get paid for it. more...

On the other hand, I was very much interested in the way people behaved, the human dance, how they seemed to move around each other. I wanted to play around with that. more...

I talked to members of my family, and did some personal research that didn't really have anything to do with the time and place I was writing about, but that gave me a feeling of the experience of being black in a time and place where it was very difficult to be black. more...

No one was going to stop me from writing and no one had to really guide me towards science fiction. It was natural, really, that I would take that interest. more...

Fantasy is totally wide open; all you really have to do is follow the rules you've set. But if you're writing about science, you have to first learn what you're writing about. more...

While Fledging is a different type of book, The Parable series serve as cautionary tales. I wrote the Parable books because of the direction of the country. You can call it save the world fiction, but it clearly doesn't save anything. more...

But my problem with fantasy, and horror, and related genres, is that sometimes the problems are illogical. more...

I was attracted to science fiction because it was so wide open. I was able to do anything and there were no walls to hem you in and there was no human condition that you were stopped from examining. more...

I think people really need to think what it's like to have all of society arrayed against you, more...

Belief initiates and guides action - or it does nothing. more...

Slavery is a long slow process of dulling. more...

I have this theory that anything that happens to you that leaves you alive and intact can be used somewhere in your writing. more...

The only black people you found were occasional characters or characters who were so feeble-witted that they couldn't manage anything, anyway. I wrote myself in, since I'm me and I'm here and I'm writing. more...

I'm me, and I'm here, and I'm writing, more...

Be who you are and not who someone else thinks you ought to be. more...

In my years, I have seen that people must be their own gods and make their own good fortune. The bad will come or not come anyway. more...

Nothing. It just finds you a lot more attractive than it does most Humans. What can you do with a beautiful woman that you can't do with an ugly one? Nothing. It's just a matter of preference. more...

Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself. Every story I write adds to me a little, changes me a little, forces me to reexamine an attitude or belief, causes me to research and learn, helps me to understand people and grow. more...

If you want a thing-truly want it, want it so badly that you need it as you need air to breathe, then unless you die, you will have it. Why not? It has you. There is no escape. What a cruel and terrible thing escape would be if escape were possible more...

The child in each of us Knows paradise. Paradise is home. Home as it was Or home as it should have been. Paradise is one's own place, One's own people, One's own world, Knowing and known, Perhaps even Loving and loved. Yet every child Is cast from paradise- Into growth and new community, Into vast, ongoing Change. more...

Tolerance, like any aspect of peace, is forever a work in progress, never completed, and, if we're as intelligent as we like to think we are, never abandoned. more...

You are horror and beauty in rare combination. more...

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery. more...

Beware: Ignorance Protects itself. Ignorance Promotes suspicion. Suspicion Engenders fear. Fear quails, Irrational and blind, Or fear looms, Defiant and closed. Blind, closed, Suspicious, afraid, Ignorance Protects itself, And protected, Ignorance grows. more...

There is no end To what a living world Will demand of you. more...

Better to stay alive," I said. "At least while there's a chance to get free." I thought of the sleeping pills in my bag and wondered just how great a hypocrite I was. It was so easy to advise other people to live with their pain. more...

...I realized that I knew less about loneliness than I had thought - and much less than I would know when he went away. more...

I'm a 48-year-old writer who can remember being a 10-year-old writer and who expects someday to be an 80-year-old writer. I'm also comfortably asocial - a hermit in the middle of Los Angeles - a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist, a Black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive. more...

I'm a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist, a Black,...an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive. more...

Nothing. It just finds you a lot more attractive than it does most Humans. What can you do with a beautiful woman that you ca' do with an ugly one? Nothing. It's just a matter of preference. more...

It's when people begin using their religion as just a way of getting power over other people that scares me. I'm afraid that's what's going on in a lot of cases right now. When people deliberately tell lies, Creationism for instance, and pretend, "Oh, it's not really religion." I mean they know they're lying, and yet they're the religious people. There's something wrong there. more...

Civilization is to groups what intelligence is to individuals. It is a means of combining the intelligence of many to achieve ongoing group adaptation. Civilization, like intelligence, may serve well, serve adequately, or fail to serve its adaptive function. When civilization fails to serve, it must disintegrate unless it is acted upon by unifying internal or external forces. more...


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