Most of the time, I think I should be spending my time writing rather than reading about writing. Wouldn’t my time be better spent honing my craft than reading the words of someone who’s already done it? In this case it’s a good thing I ignored my own advice because I would have been denied the mental TNT that is Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury.
I plan to buy a copy of my own to deface with a highlighter, but wow… I was alternately cowed and inspired. While I don’t care much for word association, what I took away from this book is:
1: I am not alone in my fierce need to write. It’s write or die a miserable, uncreative death choking on the words which should have been put to paper.
and 2: I will never, EVER be anywhere as good as Bradbury; who wrote most of these inspiring essays before I was even born. 0.0
After giving it a great deal of thought, I’ve decided that in all honesty, I shouldn’t try to be like Bradbury. I shouldn’t try to be like anyone and in doing so, I would have missed the entire point of Bradbury’s book.
Bradbury went into great detail about how, when he was young, his "friends" would try and talk him out of his favorite comics and I can recall getting the same treatment. Especially since I was a girl. "Girls are not supposed to read X-Men." "Comics are for boys. Here, take this Barbie instead."
You know what I did with those Barbies? I played X-Men with them. Endless visits to the Hellfire Club got repetitive (what else was I supposed to do with all those gowns!?) and Cyclops was now a Black woman (not many "Ken" dolls) but I didn’t care. I LOVED it. I loved comics, I loved fantasy, I thought the Crypt Keeper was a genius, and that the Twilight Zone was a temple in which Rod Sterling should be worshiped. As a teenager, Lady Death and Evil Ernie taught me that you can do any damn thing you want when you write and draw and to tell those girls who called you a lesbian for drawing women in superhero uniforms to fucking suck it. Yes, that really happened. The lesbian part, not the actual telling them to suck it. I just looked at them like they were morons and went on with my life.
What does all that senseless rambling mean? I don’t need to try and be like Bradbury. I already am by virtue of being myself and having no fear. You can’t write if you have fear. Am I scared that someone will come up to me and say my book sucked so hard, they wanted to pour bleach in their eyes? Sure. But in that moment when you put pen to paper and you are at the mercy of characters, pouring your soul out on to the page, you are making magic. Let it take you.