Ray Bradbury, who died at 91, was one of my favorite writers when I was in my teens and early 20s. Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, and Fahrenheit 451 were all classics and his unforgettable short story “A Sound of Thunder” made the world stop and think. That was the story in which a time traveller inadvertently crushes a butterfly - an accident with far-reaching consequences.
Somewhere along the way I’d also purchased a Bradbury writing guide called “Zen and the Art of Writing”.
For reasons I can’t explain, I pulled it off my shelf last November and read the whole thing, and it helped me get in the spirit of blogging. Newspaper deadlines can be stressful enough without having to think about producing blog posts nearly every day. There’s no editor for blog posts. We’re out there on our own. I was scared.
Zen isn’t a how-to book as much as an explanation of how Bradbury found his inspiration. But he did give one piece of advice: You have to write every day. That seemed worth taking up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ray Bradbury wrote something every single day until he died. He clearly loved writing. Here’s a quote from a talk he gave several years ago:
In 2009, at a lecture celebrating the first anniversary of a small library in Southern California's San Gabriel Valley, Bradbury exhorted his listeners to live their lives as he said he had lived his: "Do what you love and love what you do."
That’s very hard to achieve in life. In journalism it’s sometimes said you have to write the stories you hate in order to get the chance to write the stories you love. I think if you do what you love at least some of the time you’re ahead of the game. Read his obituary here.