Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury (Part 2)


Bradbury makes intoxication an elixir. Did you read Part 1?

“You need to be drunk on writing- ready to go and then endorsements from tall figures will be no rarity. The drunkenness must come first though. And you don’t need to be embarrassed by what you love- love poetry, write it, read it with others who do!”

Like Stephen King, Bradbury talks about how he started out writing, got rejected, accepted and climbed the rungs of authorship and actually began cashing in on his writing ability: “For ten years I wrote at least one short story a week, somehow guessing that a day would finally come when I truly got out of the way and let it happen.”

It wasn’t that he had all the means to dedicate his life to writing. A hot topic of writing wannabes nowadays is getting the right ‘place’ to write. We all dream of that magic table where our ideas begin to shape themselves. Bradbury found a spot too: “I located just the place, the typing room in the basement of the library at the University of California at Los Angeles. There, in neat rows, were a score or more of old Remington or Underwood typewriters which rented out at a dime a half hour. You thrust your dime in, the clock ticked madly, and you typed wildly, to finish before the half hour ran out.” Nine day draft!”

This was how he wrote Fahrenheit 451, the book that catapulted him into fame.

fahrenheit 451

Have you ever been able to write like that? As though there is never ever a red light in your head and you just go on as though you are on fire. Keeping this little book by your side can give you the inspiration, the shame, the gratitude, the high to write without fear, without stopping.

Bradbury wrote about his life and family in Illinois, things he knew and experienced first hand. But he also wrote about life on Mars. He wrote for children and he wrote plays for theater goers. He was a screen writer too. Directors sought him out. So a writer should be comfortable writing in the media of the time- a writer today should be comfortable on twitter and facebook too.

What can spoil things for someone who writes is self-consciousness. When someone writes, it’s not about the person who writes at all, but the ideas that pop into her head. It’s hard to phrase this better than Bradbury:

You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you. If you try to approach a cat and pick it up, hell, it won’t let you do it. You’ve got to say, “Well, to hell with you.” And the cat says, “Wait a minute. He’s not behaving the way most humans do.” Then the cat follows you out of curiosity: “Well, what’s wrong with you that you don’t love me?”

Plot keeps changing, but really a writer waits for things to happen on the page. It’s as Zen as Zen can ever get.


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