No one writes quite like Ray Bradbury. Perhaps that’s an understatement, but as I was reading Zen in the Art of Writing, I was again reminded of his brilliance. He has impeccable control of the English language. But at the same time, his sentences are playful and colorful. His thinking is philosophical and, at the same time lighthearted.
“But ideas lie everywhere, like apples fallen and melting in the grass for lack of wayfaring strangers with an eye and a tongue for beauty, whether absurd, horrific, or genteel.”
Picking up this book, at this moment was kismet for me. As I said out loud to someone recently, I’d like to write more and maybe even get paid for it again. In this collection of essays, Bradbury reminds me that I have to do my work first. Writing a thousand words every day is a given. And Bradbury talks about what it was like for him to develop the discipline. But he also describes how he created writing prompts based on his world, past, present, and future.
“When people ask me where I get my ideas, I laugh. How strange—we’re so busy looking out, to find ways and means, we forget to look in.”
Ray Bradbury’s trajectory to fame was wildly different than it would have been in the 21st century instead of the 20th. He sold short stories to pulp horror magazines, met critical people to his career in bookstores, and took big risks to move across the country. Fahrenheit 451 was written in a public library, where Bradbury paid by the minute to use the typewriter.
“There I strolled, lost in love, down the corridors, and through the stacks, touching books, pulling volumes out, turning pages, thrusting volumes back, drowning in all the good stuffs that are the essence of libraries. What a place, don’t you agree, to write a novel about burning books in the Future!”
I could write several more pages by setting up and copying quotes from this book. The topics cover his early writing life, and also his experiences after achieving success. He admonishes the writer, enlightens the reader, and always shares his excitement at being alive.
“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.”
Per Ray Bradbury’s advice, I’m pulling a book of poetry off my shelf. I’m planning to visit some exhibits in the next week, and learn lessons about history. I’ll try to start having more discipline about writing, to encourage the Muse rather than depend on her whims.
This is a fast read, with short essays and vivid, poetic language. Another five-star book for me.