Silver Birch Musings: I’ve come to believe that the most important thing for any writer — and what keeps you writing — is belief in your work, despite what others may say about it. Sometimes, other people don’t understand what you’re trying to do — or your style and subject matter is just too different from what people have seen before. I’ll admit I’ve been on both sides of this fence — I’ve  misunderstood other people’s work and have had readers dismiss mine. The main thing is to keep writing — and never let anyone else’s opinion discourage you.

To make my point, here is a rejection letter Ursula K. Le Guin‘s agent received in 1968 from an editor regarding Le Guin’s novel The Left Hand of Darkness:

Dear Miss Kidd,

Ursula K. Le Guin writes extremely well, but I’m sorry to have to say that on the basis of that one highly distinguishing quality alone I cannot make you an offer for the novel. The book is so endlessly complicated by details of reference and information, the interim legends become so much of a nuisance despite their relevance, that the very action of the story seems to be to become hopelessly bogged down and the book, eventually, unreadable. The whole is so dry and airless, so lacking in pace, that whatever drama and excitement the novel might have had is entirely dissipated by what does seem, a great deal of the time, to be extraneous material. My thanks nonetheless for having thought of us. The manuscript of  The Left Hand of Darkness is returned herewith.

Yours sincerely,

The Editor
21 June, 1968

The following year (1969), Walker and Company published The Left Hand of Darkness to overwhelming critical acclaim. The novel also won the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards. Here are some of the reviews Le Guin  has received for the book:

“[A] science fiction masterpiece.”Newsweek

“A jewel of a story.”Frank Herbert

“As profuse and original in invention as The Lord of the Rings.”Michael Moorcock

“An instant classic.”Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Like all great writers of fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin creates imaginary worlds that restore us, hearts eased, to our own.”The Boston Globe

“Stellar…Le Guin is a superb stylist with a knack for creating characters who are both wise and deeply humane. A major event in fantasy literature.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Find The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin at

Trivia Tidbit: Ursula K. Le Guin and Philip K. Dick were in the same high school graduating class — Berkeley (California) High School Class of 1947