Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ray Bradbury Made Us Think, and Helped Me Learn to Blog

Ray Bradbury has died at 91. He changed the way I thought with his provocative short stories, especially "A Sound of Thunder" in which time travelller crushes a butterfly with far-reaching consequences.

Ray Bradbury Made Us Think, and Helped Me Learn to Blog

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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.

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About this blog
Faye Flam - writer
In pursuit of her stories, writer Faye Flam has weathered storms in Greenland, gotten frost nip at the South Pole, and floated weightless aboard NASA’s zero-g plane. She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology and started her writing career with the Economist. She later took on the particle physics and cosmology beat at Science Magazine before coming to the Inquirer in 1995. Her previous science column, “Carnal Knowledge,” ran from 2005 to 2008. Her new column and blog, Planet of the Apes, explores the topic of evolution and runs here and in the Inquirer’s health section each Monday. Email Faye at fflam@phillynews.com. Reach Planet of the at fflam@phillynews.com.

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