One of the best books on the writing life I’ve ever discovered is a classic written in 1994 by “Fahrenheit 451” author, Ray Bradbury when he was 74.
Now, being written a mere twenty years ago of course, does not make it a classic (that’s a scary concept for someone like me). The 90s were real, man! No, it’s the book’s message that earns its kudos—together with the reception it’s since received.
I’m talking about:
Bradbury, R. 1994. Zen in the Art of Writing. Joshua Odell Editions. Santa Barbara, California.
Why do I recommend it to you?
It goes back to that blog piece I wrote just the other day here, asking why do we write?
Bradbury makes it clear that hopes for instant fortune and fame go nowhere. On the other hand hard work, practice and study will put writers in good stead.
But there’s something much more to achieving writing greatness. And that’s a genuine interest in life and everything that goes into its stuffing.
This doesn’t mean though, that we have to be happy folk, tiptoeing around the tulips. Not at all.
He makes his point with a quote I’ve actually printed out that hangs on my wall. It’s sitting right above me now—and simply reads:
What do I really think of the world, what do I love, fear, hate? Now pour this on paper.
I added the “now” to replace his words “and begin to”, as his quote comes from a longer paragraph. But for me, its impact is like the sledgehammer he intended.
Writing is only genuine when it’s from within us—meaning not adjusted per any perceived notions of marketability, audience or norms.
I’ve always said, “I’ll be happy as a writer when I have a huge readership.” What I actually mean is, I’ll be sated when I’ve managed to entertain and sow thoughts into a whole lot of people with my style and world-view. That’s a whole different dune buggy chassis.
So buy this book. If you’ve never read anything like it by way of message, there’s no better place to start.
If you already know its crux, then Bradbury’s journey in my opinion, is a fine friend to have around each day.
© 2016 Adam Parker.