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Lessons from Ray Bradbury


I own only one book written by Ray Bradbury – Zen in the Art of Writing.  The small book’s cover is torn, and the pages have yellow speckles – signs of aging, as well as wear and tear.  For indeed, the book had been read over and over.  For almost a decade, it was the one book that could be found at different places in my bedroom.

From Ray Bradbury’s book, I learned how important poetry is to a writer.

“Read poetry every day of your life.  Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your car, your tongue, your hand.  And, above all, poetry is compacted metaphor or simile.  Such metaphors, like Japanese paper flowers, may expand outward into gigantic shapes.  Ideas  lie everywhere through the poetry books, yet how rarely have I heard short story teachers recommending them for browsing.”

Although Bradbury’s personality was so un-Zen, many of the things he wrote in Zen in the Art of Writing are so quintessentially Zen.  I never believed that money should be the important aspect in my writing career, and I was glad to read – towards the end of the book – what Bradbury had to say about money and writing:

“It is a lie to write as to be rewarded by money in the commercial market.”

Bradbury spelled out his formula for success:  Work -Relaxation – Don’t Think

WORK   “And work itself, after a while, takes on a rhythm. The mechanical begins to fall away.  The body begins to take over.  The guard goes down. What happens then?   RELAXATION. DON’T THINK! Which results in more relaxation and more unthinkingness and greater creativity.”

And in case you disagree with his formula, Bradbury has this to say:

“Impossible! you say.  How can you work and relax? How can you create and not be a nervous wreck?

“It can be done. It is done, every day, every week of every year.  Athletes do it. Painters do it.  Mountain climbers do it. Zen Buddhists do it with their little bows and arrows.

“Even I can do it.

“And if even I can do it, as you are probably hissing now, through clenched teeth, you can do it, too!”

Pay heed, blogathon participants!


Photo: Wikipedia


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