In March of 2009, I attended a book signing with Ray Bradbury, one of my writer-heroes. Bradbury arrived in a wheelchair, a rumpled man with a huge shock of white hair.
One thing I enjoy about having writers as heroes – they’re more accessible than other kinds of heroes. They do book signings. They speak at conferences. You can get up-close without 10,000 screaming fans crowding you.
After settling in front of our group of maybe 50 fans, Bradbury talked of his love and passion for writing. “There’s no writer’s block if you write what you love,” he said.
Elsewhere, he has written, “In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write. The more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is the ONLY style worth tiger-trapping.”
Be quick with your words. Blurt. Leap upon the truth. It sounds so easy. I admit I fight constantly with the inner editor that wants to revise it all before it hits the page.
At the book signing, Bradbury was excited to tell us that, while he has never had a driver’s license in all of his then almost 90 years, he was thrilled recently to visit the Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena, California, to drive the Mars Rover on the surface of the same planet he has visited in his imagination since The Martian Chronicles.
Bradbury asked us, “Do you remember being born?” Lots of shrugs from the group. “I do,” he said. “I remember colors in the womb. I came out laughing. I was happy to be born.” I have never met anyone who remembers being born, but I believe Bradbury remembers it. He lived his whole life laughing, in love with writing, happy to be in this life.
After Bradbury had fielded several questions from his fans, someone asked him what he thought the future held for our young generation. He raised himself up in his wheelchair, his eyes sparkling, and almost cried out, “We should go back to the moon! Go on to Mars, with the moon as a base camp. Then go on to Alpha Centauri.”
Nothing about getting a degree, or working hard, or networking. Take us back to the moon, Take us beyond our own imagination.
(I first posted this on opensalon.com in July of 2010.)