Saturday, 8 October 2011

Saved by Ray Bradbury

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

When I sat down to write this, it was four forty-seven in the afternoon. My brain was stretched and smoked from five hours of editing and cutting, the writing of 721 new words, the rearranging of hundreds of others. My back hurt. I had a slight sense of pressure on the top of my head. My teeth, I am ashamed to admit, were a tiny bit gritted.

I was writing to do lists which said mysterious things like: perfection section; finish culture (because clearly the culture must be finished); rework media chapter; happy hat. That last one is a very technical edit, practised only by the recondite. Actually, it's when the co-writer thinks I am too lost in rant, and have forgotten my sense of humour. 'Do a happy hat edit,' she says, sternly. This is the thing about being British. You may make a serious point, but only if you do it with a joke. It's all there, somewhere in our unwritten constitution.

Anyway, I had the strong sense that I had literally run out of words. There was nothing left. I'll just have to give them pictures, I thought. But I hate just giving you pictures. I feel that if you get no prose, you are entitled to ask for your money back. (You may see that the irrational has firm hold of me now, has clamped me in its slavering jaws and is about to drag me back to its cave.)

Also, it is a horrid day outside, so I have not even taken any pictures, because it is too dreich.

Bugger, I thought.

I'll just do a little internet noodle, I thought, to take my mind off it.

And there, waiting for me, like a shining star, was this:

To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.
You must write every single day of your life.
You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.
You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.
I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.
I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.
May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories—science fiction or otherwise.
Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

It's by Ray Bradbury, and I found it on the always excellent Advice to Writers website, which really lives up to its name.
Ray, I thought, bless you and all who sail in you. I smiled wildly at the screen. I especially liked the bit about sniffing books in libraries. I was in the library this morning, with the smiling librarian, who always asks after the progress of the book. I wondered what she would make of the sniffing.
It was so good, I went back and read it again.
Yes, I thought. That's right. That's how it should be.

On account of the rain, the pictures are from the last few days:


Hill, from a different angle than usual:


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I was going to say, I went to a book launch today and the author mentioned a conversation with Ray Bradbury; what a coincidence. Only now I think about it, it was Malcolm Bradbury. So ... um ... I'll wander off and think what I'm going to cook for dinner instead.

  3. Z - Do you think they are distant cousins? :)

  4. The Pigeon's eyes are so glossy in B&W, she looks (fanciful of me, I know) close to tears. I wonder what she makes of all the pounding on the keys. My Westie Edgar, when a pup, seemed to have cannily learnt how to paw at the correct button on the computer tower to power it down, so that I grew exasperated at the suddenly blank screen and turned to him instead. I would then give up the silly sitting at the typing-television and go and do something much more worthwhile instead, involving balls, or tramping in the woods or even just being in the garden barking at the birds. Him, not me, barking, obviously. I hope obviously! Edgar maintains a no-fly zone around our house very assiduously.

    I use a laptop now so that nifty option isn't open to him these days, so he sits on my feet and sighs instead. Our dogs would never understand Ray Bradbury. They are lucky, in a way, not to be in thrall to the craft of combining words in new and enticing orders. Their expressive range of woofs, yips and soulful stares (and paws on off buttons) works so well they don't feel the need, I suppose.

  5. Goldenoldlady - she does sometimes look rather melancholy in pictures, mostly because she gets a bit fed up when I insist on snapping away when I could be throwing her stick for her. It's her longsuffering look. Love the Edgar story. He sounds SPLENDID. :)

  6. I saw a cartoon once of a dog looking out of the window and thinking "Another perfect day". I think that optimism and joie de vivre is why we are so devoted and perhaps slightly envious of our hounds.

  7. I think this is one of the finest Pigeon photos yet. Also, great quote-- thank you.

  8. And, he wrote "something wicked this way comes" - which I absolutely *adore*
    Never have I seen anything more stunning than the Pigeon in that last photograph.
    Anne(37 weeks tomorrow!).x

  9. Jane - I think you are absolutely right.

    Ellie - you are so very kind; thank you.

    Anne - so lovely to hear from you. Three weeks to go! Wishing you every good thing. This will be the first baby of the regular dear readers; it really is very, very exciting.

  10. There IS something about the smell of books. Every time I pass one of the university libraries buildings here, that distinct aroma wafts out through the ventilation units and just takes me back to childhood & days spent at our local little library (very funky too; it was made out of blocks of coral rock & had a squeaky Dade County pine hard wood floor).

    My Ray Bradbury quote is: "Don't think! Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must DO things."

    wv: "suckiff" (!) as in...that would really suck, ifff???

  11. Ah, the smell of books... only to be surpassed/equaled by the smell of an old bookshop! And pipe tobacco.

  12. Oh my, what a beautiful picture of Pigeon.


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