June 22nd marks the birthday of the late Octavia E. Butler, a literary legend and author of several masterpieces including Kindred, Dawn, and The Parable of the Sower. In her lifetime, Butler carved out a space for black women in science fiction and became one of the most influential writers of our time. In 1995, she became the first science fiction author to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “Genius Grant”, effectively opening doors for women like her to dream of accessing prestigious literary and cultural spaces.
As extraordinary as her achievements were, what drew me to this author and encouraged me to commemorate her life is the unearthing of her remarkable “note to self” by the Huntington Library archives in San Marino, California. In this note she makes a bold and clear manifesto for success, outlining exactly what she wanted to achieve, including the privileges that a successful career could afford her and how she was going to help her community. The specificity of this note is astounding, and without a doubt Octavia Butler went on to achieve exactly what she visualised all those years ago. What we can learn from her journal entry is the power of visualising one’s goals and how it is an essential step in the journey towards success.