The author of such classics as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Something Wicked This Way Comes has been honing his craft since his teens. At age 14, a precocious Bradbury persuaded George Burns to let him write for the Burns & Allen comedy show. Since then he’s produced more than five hundred published works—short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, television scripts and verse.
Raised on Ray
I grew up reading Bradbury’s short stories and novels, starting with The Martian Chronicles, and had the privilege of meeting him 20 years ago when he spoke at the San Juan Capistrano Library. A captivating storyteller, he talked about the inspiration he drew from libraries, books, and comics dating back to Buck Rogers in the 1920s. I still have a cherished photo of me posing with my “buddy” Ray.
“Libraries raised me,” Bradbury recounted in a New York Times story detailing his efforts to save a local institution. “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
A Best-Selling Dime Novel
His best-known novel was written in the basement of the UCLA library on a pay typewriter (ten cents per half hour) for lack of an office. “I didn’t know it, but I was literally writing a dime novel. In the spring of 1950, it cost me nine dollars and eighty cents in dimes to write and finish the first draft of The Fire Man, which later became Fahrenheit 451.
Along with his wonderfully imaginative tales, the man loves to wax eloquent about writing itself. “Since writing [Fahrenheit 451], I have spun more stories, novels, essays, and poems about writers than any other writer in history that I can think of. …I am madness—maddened when it comes to books, writers, and the great granary silos where their wits are stored.”
In a collection of essays entitled Zen in the Art of Writing, Bradbury discusses how to cultivate and tap into the inspiration to create. “Ideas are everywhere,” he says.
Now we come to the cliffhanger part of this post that continues with a Cliff Notes version of Zen…
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