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Quotes Wednesday

Those who don't build must burn.

By InstaScribe

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Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury (Part 2)

Bradbury makes intoxication an elixir. Did you read Part 1?

“You need to be drunk on writing- ready to go and then endorsements from tall figures will be no rarity. The drunkenness must come first though. And you don’t need to be embarrassed by what you love- love poetry, write it, read it with others who do!”

Like Stephen King, Bradbury talks about how he started out writing, got rejected, accepted and climbed the rungs of authorship and actually began cashing in on his writing ability: “For ten years I wrote at least one short story a week, somehow guessing that a day would finally come when I truly got out of the way and let it happen.”

It wasn’t that he had all the means to dedicate his life to writing. A hot topic of writing wannabes nowadays is getting the right ‘place’ to write. We all dream of that magic table where our ideas begin to shape themselves. Bradbury found a spot too: “I located just the place, the typing room in the basement of the library at the University of California at Los Angeles. There, in neat rows, were a score or more of old Remington or Underwood typewriters which rented out at a dime a half hour. You thrust your dime in, the clock ticked madly, and you typed wildly, to finish before the half hour ran out.” Nine day draft!”

This was how he wrote Fahrenheit 451, the book that catapulted him into fame.

fahrenheit 451

Have you ever been able to write like that? As though there is never ever a red light in your head and you just go on as though you are on fire. Keeping this little book by your side can give you the inspiration, the shame, the gratitude, the high to write without fear, without stopping.

Bradbury wrote about his life and family in Illinois, things he knew and experienced first hand. But he also wrote about life on Mars. He wrote for children and he wrote plays for theater goers. He was a screen writer too. Directors sought him out. So a writer should be comfortable writing in the media of the time- a writer today should be comfortable on twitter and facebook too.

What can spoil things for someone who writes is self-consciousness. When someone writes, it’s not about the person who writes at all, but the ideas that pop into her head. It’s hard to phrase this better than Bradbury:

You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you. If you try to approach a cat and pick it up, hell, it won’t let you do it. You’ve got to say, “Well, to hell with you.” And the cat says, “Wait a minute. He’s not behaving the way most humans do.” Then the cat follows you out of curiosity: “Well, what’s wrong with you that you don’t love me?”

Plot keeps changing, but really a writer waits for things to happen on the page. It’s as Zen as Zen can ever get.

 


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Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury (Part 1)

How’s the NaNoWriMo-ing doing?

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury is probably one of my favorite books on writing. It’s also the first book I ever read on the subject. Although nowadays the how to write industry stands on its own, there was a time when books about the elusive muse and a writer’s trials and tribulations were all so few and far between. It is hard to appreciate a book at all in this excess. So how does a writer stand out in the noise?

Zenintheartofwriting_

 

Bradbury seems to know the secret.

Have you watched his talk?

In this slim volume, we have a series of essays, compiled from his articles on the subject over a period of thirty years.  He makes the writing process sound so simple, writer that he is of essays, short stories, novels, plays and screenplays. He isn’t afraid to write long titles like RUN FAST, STAND STILL, OR,THE THING AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, OR, NEW GHOSTS FROM OLD MINDS, and he believes that writers shouldn’t be afraid. They should be perpetually excited, filled with gusto.

Remember what Dorothea Brande said about using the conscious aspect and unconscious aspect while writing? Well, Bradbury is all about the subterranean thought processes that will heat up the keyboard by thirty degrees. Writers should feel more than everyone else- that’s why they are writers and that’s how they can get the feeling like a virus across to others.

“Be a chameleon, ink-blend, chromosome change with the landscape. Be a pet rock, lie with the dust, rest in the rainwater in the filled barrel by the drainspout outside your grandparents’ window long ago,” he says. Okay, if you can write like that, maybe you are on the right track after all. Bradbury tells us how he wrote 1000 words everyday since he was 12 and that the first good story he wrote was 10 years later. If that isn’t inspiring, what is?

He has a little exercise that you might like. Consider a list of words-preferably nouns- and use those nouns as prompts. Word association activated his muse like nothing else. Have you tried it? This slender book is so good, I might write some more parts. If you haven’t read it  yet, well please don’t procrastinate!

 

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