octavia butler quotes

21 Octavia Butler Quotes to Celebrate Her Birth & Greatness

Fun fact: Today is the birthday of the late, great Octavia Butler. Considered one of America’s greatest sci-fi writers, Butler is an icon and so much more to Black and African American writers who share her love of writing.
 
Her novels have inspired a generation of Black writers and spurred many to take on writing sci-fi, fantasy, Afrofuturism, and speculative fiction. There’s so much aspiring authors can gain by studying Butler’s career. However, her sage advice doesn’t stop at writing. From writing about slavery to living your best life – here are 21 Octavia Butler quotes to inspire you to aim for your own version of greatness.

21 Octavia Butler Quotes

On Writing
1.“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.”
2.“I used to give up writing like some people would give up smoking.”
3.“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.”
4.“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.”
5. “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.”
6.“I don’t write about good and evil with this enormous dichotomy. I write about people. I write about people doing the kinds of things that people do.”
On Race, Sex & Class
7. “The norm is white, apparently, in the view of people who see things in that way. For them, the only reason you would introduce a black character is to introduce this kind of abnormality. Usually, it’s because you’re telling a story about racism or at least about race.”
8. “My race and sex had a great deal more to do with what people believed I could do than with
what I actually could do.”
9. “In countries where there are no racial differences or no religious differences, people find other reasons to set aside one certain group of people and generally spit in their direction.”
10. “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.”
11. “How dull it is to have people defining you.”
12. “We are a naturally hierarchical species.”
On Science Fiction
13. “Science fiction, extrasensory perception, and black people are judged by the worst elements
they produce.”
14. “The thing about science fiction is that it’s totally wide open. But it’s wide open in a conditional way.”
15. “Science fiction is not formulaic.”
16. “Science fiction frees you to go anyplace and examine anything.”
17. “Science fiction let me do both. It let me look into science and stick my nose in everywhere.”
18. “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.”
On Vampires
19. “If vampires were a separate species, and they were into genetic engineering, what would they engineer for?”
20. “Most vampires I have discovered are men for some reason. I guess it’s because of Dracula; people are kind of feeding off that.”
 
On Living Your Best Life
21. “Beware, all too often we say what we hear others say. We think what we are told that we think. We see what we are permitted to see. Worse, we see what we are told that we see.”

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