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“I could become a writer, or I could die really young.” Octavia Butler on Charlie Rose.

Emily Temple

June 22, 2021, 11:00am

Today is Octavia Butler’s birthday, which is as good an excuse as any to not only bask in her writing advice but also revisit her 2000 appearance on Charlie Rose, in which Rose mispronounces “Nebula” and asks Butler why she writes science fiction. “Because there are no closed doors, no walls,” Butler tells him. “The only rule is, if you use science, you should use it accurately. You can look at, examine, play with anything. Absolutely anything.” When he asks if she’s surprised that she became a writer, she says “Oh, no. I think I had two choices: I could become a writer, or I could die really young. Because there wasn’t anything else that I wanted. . . . You got to make your own worlds. You got to write yourself in. Whether you were a part of the greater society or not, you got to write yourself in. So I got to write myself in.” I think it’s fair to say we’re all very glad she did. Watch the whole thing here:

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