A Brilliant Writer Goes Silent

According to a friend of Suzette Haden Elgin, Elgin has become disabled and will be unable to return to blogging. Reading between the lines, I suspect her writing career is over as well.

This is tremendously sad news. Suzette Haden Elgin was one of the first writer–bloggers I started reading. Her voice was distinct and distinguished, and she was always irrepressibly herself, no matter what the topic: writing, finding new ways to be published and read, languages and linguistics, feminism, health, poverty, peace. She founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association; she helped countless people defuse and escape difficult situations with her book The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense; she wrote linguistic SF, most notably the Native Tongue trilogy, that both linguists and laypeople could enjoy and appreciate.

Elgin is now 75 years old, and I think she has been having health trouble and other difficulties for some time. In early 2009 she combined her three newsletters into one; last December she stopped sending out newsletters altogether. Six months ago she said that she was rewriting her latest novel, start to finish, in longhand, as she recently had to give up her ancient computer and couldn’t get the hang of working in Word. Perhaps it was predictable and inevitable that even brief blog updates would become too difficult for her—but that doesn’t make it any less awful.

I’m grateful that Stephen Marsh tracked her down and spread the word. I hope Elgin is comfortable and happy. And I will miss her earthy, serious, wise words more than I can say.

11 thoughts on “A Brilliant Writer Goes Silent

  1. Ellie Miller

    Oh this makes such SAD hearing, especially since we’re the same age. I had the pleasure of meeting her several times at Wiscons over the years…have vivid recollections of her wise, witty and (occasionally) ascerbic comments during panel appearances there…and own almost all of her books. Her “Ozark Trilogy” in particular is one of my treasures. Here’s a fervant echo to your own wish for her comfort, happiness and well-being!

  2. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    This ol’ boy’s heart is deeply saddened. We’ve missed her in recent years at Wiscon, and one always hopes that things will get better. I pray there’s somebody out there transcribing her writings; her voice is too unique to be silenced by mere physicalities.

  3. Andrew Porter

    I suddenly feel old. I discovered her, pulled her first story out of the slushpile at F&SF, and Ed Ferman published it. It went on to be widely anthologized and reprinted. One of the few really successful authors I discovered in eight years of reading the mag’s slushpile.

  4. JMS

    Sad, sad news. I wish her all the best. She has given us so much that it is selfish to want more (even though I do) and I hope she takes some joy from how much she and her work are loved.

  5. Stephen M (Ethesis)

    I’d note, that if there is anyone who is interested in Laadan or in preserving things for her as a fan, I’ll be glad to transfer the domain http://ozarque.com/ without any cost or charge (I’ll pay the transfer fees). I put it up staring in 2003 with her approval, you can tell not much has happened there since 2007, though I updated her status.

    Anyway, I don’t have the heart to do anything with it and would be glad to pass it on, should someone have an interest in using it.

  6. houseboatonstyx

    I’ve been following her LiveJournal. It is wonderful, particularly the entries some years ago. I hope someone techy will keep it available too.

  7. Mike Allen

    I had not seen this post until just now. When I served as President of the Science Fiction Poetry Association from 2004-2006, working with Suzette was one of the joys of the job. Suzette, who founded the organization in the 1970s, had gone on to do other things. In drawing her back to assemble her Science Fiction Poetry Handbook, I got to know a woman who was brilliant, even-tempered, soft-spoken yet vivacious. It saddens me to read that her writing career is over. I’m glad for the chance I had to get to know her.

  8. Raymond E. Feist

    Sad news indeed. I met her at San Diego State, eight years before Magician was published, which meant at least four before I was imagining it. I never connected with her as a writer, but rather through a program on educational issues for non-native English Speakers in higher education. I was working in the health and human services field and we became reacquainted later as fellow writers. Damn, but she was funny and bright and smart enough to know when to let other people talk themselves in and out of looking silly. Just so many good things to say about Suzette . . .

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