Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Everything Zen

I think it's high time we heard from the man whose writing career formed the foundation and inspiration for Write1Sub1: that's right, Mr. Ray Bradbury himself.

What makes someone a living legend? Does he have to live long enough to see his work become popular? Outlive his critics? For many writers in the past, a true fan base only developed posthumously.

Not so with Ray Bradbury.

In his early days, he wrote a short story every week and submitted it, too busy to notice the rejection letters that came pouring in. He loved to write. He still does. Novels, short stories, poetry, one-act plays—even a holiday musical: Merry Christmas 2116—his body of work is loved the world over.

His poetic prose in Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Death Is a Lonely Business has been a real inspiration to me, and his advice to struggling writers to “struggle harder” comes from life experience. He knows what he’s talking about.

Seeing him in the fall of 2009 at the Escondido public library was a surreal experience. He spoke about being a “lover of life,” and that, for him, his writing has always been a labor of love. I didn’t get a chance to shake his hand or tell him how much I appreciate him, but he probably gets enough of that already. Honestly, what do you say to someone who’s laid the foundation for your favorite genre?

“I owe you, Mr. Bradbury.” That’s the truth.

So here are a few quotes from his collection of inspirational essays, Zen in the Art of Writing, that I hope will light a little fire under us today and keep us doing what we love:

"Run fast, stand still. This, the lesson from lizards. For all writers . . . In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are."

"Why not enjoy the first draft, in the hope that your joy will seek and fiind others in the world who, reading your story, will catch fire, too?"

"By living well, by observing as you live, by reading well and observing as you read, you have fed Your Most Original Self."

"When honest love speaks, when true admiration begins, when excitement rises, when hate curls like smoke, you need never doubt that creativity will stay with you for a lifetime."

"On Monday morning I wrote the first draft of a new story. On Tuesday I did a second draft. On Wednesday a third. On Thursday a fourth. On Friday a fifth. And on Saturday at noon I mailed out the sixth and final draft to New York. Sunday? I thought about all the wild ideas scrambling for my attention, waiting under the attic lid, confident that I would soon let them out."

"Quantity gives experience. From experience alone can quality come."


  1. Great quotes. I especially like "Quantity gives experience. From experience alone can quality come."
    Thanks for posting them.
    Donna V.

  2. The concept of "struggle harder" really hit home today. Thanks!

  3. Donna: I like that one too; very Yoda-ish.

    Madeline: We should add that to Steve's "Persperistence" motto!

  4. I love these quotes. So inspiring.

  5. I like the sound of that Zen book. I agree about enjoying the first draft :O)

  6. Deborah: Mos def; he's the man.

    Madeleine: Me too!

  7. I'm reading this at the moment. Quite the interesting little book. :)

  8. Small but mighty, that's fo sho.

  9. I love this book. I read it in December to get me ready for Write1Sub1. I've always admired Bradbury and to hear him talk about the writing process always motivates me. My favorite quote from the book is:
    "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." -Ray Bradbury

  10. Inspirational ... and daunting at the same time!

  11. Very inspirational; mos def. I keep it close at hand for whenever I'm down in the writing dumps.