Even the Best Writers, Including Octavia E. Butler, Work Hard on Self-Motivating by da-AL

Ever think you, especially if you’re a writer, are alone in your self-doubt?

Fear not alone. Even the best work hard to keep their self-esteem high and dry. Pioneer sci-fi writer Octavia E. Butler wrote pep talks to herself.

Handwritten writing notes on inside cover of one of Science Ficiton novel writer Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Copyright Estate of Octavia E. Butler.
Handwritten notes on inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Copyright Estate of Octavia E. Butler.

Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was a multiple Hugo Award and Nebula Award winner. She was the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship’s “Genius Grant.” All that, plus she was the first African-American woman to be officially recognized as a fabulous sci-fi writer.

Despite her achievements, she worked to bolster herself. Tangible evidence exists as part of “Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories,” a new exhibition dedicated to her life and work, at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (also called The Huntington) in Los Angeles. She left her collection to The Huntington, including extensive drafts, notes, and research materials for more than a dozen novels, numerous short stories, and essays, as well as correspondence, ephemera, and assorted books.

Photo of Science Fiction novel writer Octavia E. Butler near Mt. Shuksan, in Washington state, 2001. Photographer unknown.
Octavia E. Butler near Mt. Shuksan, in Washington state, 2001. Photographer unknown.

Born in Pasadena, California, Butler started writing as a kid. It took her a long time and suffering through many non-writing jobs to develop her style and eventually sell many, many stories, including her Patternist series, her Xenogenesis series, and her Parable series (aka Earthseed series).