Remembering Ray Bradbury

In honor of the great Ray Bradbury who died in June 2012, I’m reposting this story about what I learned from him.

I was looking through my book shelves for summer reading. I picked up Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing: Release the Creative Genius Within You. It’s a small paperback book that has sat on my shelf, unread. I opened the cover and on page one the autograph of the author and the date May 1996 stared me in the face.

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That’s the first time I heard Ray Bradbury speak — and the first time I asked him to sign a book. My daughter, who graduated high school last week, was three months old, and my son, a junior in college, was three years old. That’s a lot of years to have this book sitting on my bookshelf.

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Yes, I’m now reading this collection of essays and remembering how inspiring his talk was. Earlier that same day in May 1996, I recognized Ray Bradbury at Las Casuelas the Original, a small Mexican restaurant a few blocks away from the Riviera Hotel, where he was speaking later. I introduced myself to him, as he ate alone, and I said I couldn’t wait to hear his talk.

It was one of the first writer’s conferences I had attended, and I was kind of in a fog, having a newborn child and little sleep.

Ray Bradbury was amazing. He reminded me of a young child, finding wonder in the world. He had the ability to stay young at heart and observe the world as though seeing little things for the first time. I loved his story of how he wrote Fahrenheit 451 in the basement of the UCLA library at a rental typewriter for 10 cents for a half hour. He said he was literally a “dime novelist.” It gave me courage and the belief that we can do anything — if you want it badly enough.

“Garbage in, garbage out,” he said. He advised us to turn off the TV. Don’t watch the news. He said they were selling soap and there was little or no good news and it would rot our minds. Instead, “Read the Bible, a poem and an essay every day.”

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How I’d wish I’d listened more carefully and followed that advice 18 years ago. How different would my life be today? The good news is, it’s not too late to start. And I’m proud to say, I started down that path yesterday.

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My all time favorite Ray Bradbury book is Fahrenheit 451. My son Robert loves this book, too. I took my son to meet Ray Bradbury during another local speaking engagement years later. Robert has a signed copy of Farenheit 451 that he treasures. Ray Bradbury was a very accessible and kind man, willing to share with all of us enjoying his gift and genius — and striving to be 1/100th the writer that he was. 

“What do you love most in the world? The big and little things, I mean. A trolley car, a pair of tennis shoes? These, at one time when we were children, were invested with magic for us.” — Zen and the Art of Writing

10 thoughts on “Remembering Ray Bradbury

  1. What I like most is family, and writing! I would love to have time to write more, but alas, that is not possible. I write what I can, when I can and keep moving forward. I also loved Ray Bradbury but never had the pleasure of meeting him. Fahrenheit 451 was one of my favorites.

  2. 💜 Did Ray write the book about The Lady whose ageing was reversed EveryOne à lé ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Brad Pitt; really curious because it’s a Sci-Fi book and this guy lands on a planet where, please excuse me ladies, he meets a lady of a certain age and while drawn to her is put off by her grimace…then the more quality time they spend together the younger she gets; then he looks at her young fresh face and sees a smirk and wonders if that elderly grimace was a misidentified smirk

    …💛💚💙…

    • I found this on Wikipedia: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 American fantasy romantic drama film directed by David Fincher. The storyline by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord is loosely based on the 1922 short story of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

      • 💜 Thank YOU!!! So Much SupaSoulSis; it was Definitely a Sci Fi Author, maybe Hienman, E.E. Doc Smith or a Lady…the eminent “F. Scott Fitzgerald” is more of a General Author; this “short story” about The Lady Reversing Age Sticks in My Mind but My Searches ARE Fruitless, as a UseLess Male, and Even more so now, “Ray” R.I.P. He Could Have Told Me in The Blink of An Eye such is The Sci-Fi Writers Community

        …💛💚💙…

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