The summer I was 9, I stole a book from my mother’s bookshelf. It had a ferris wheel on its cover and told the tale of two boys on the verge of growing up. It thrilled me and terrified me with its poetry.
I went to the library and checked out R is for Rocket and S is for Space and The Martian Chronicles and The Halloween Tree and any book I could find that had the name Ray Bradbury on it. I fell in love with the way he strung words together, the images he painted in my imagination.
My first literary love was Ray Bradbury.
In 1993, he made one of his rare trips to San Francisco, where he did a book signing at the Booksmith on Haight Street. I hung out as dozens of people stepped forward to have a book signed and say a few words to him. I clutched the book I’d brought and tried to think of something impressive to say. I waited until everyone else was gone before I got the nerve to step forward and hand him the book.
I couldn’t bring him any of the books of his that I’d loved. I’d loved them so much that they were dog-eared and underlined. I treasured his language, trying to pick it apart to find its beauty. I’d read Something Wicked This Way Comes so many times that its cover had come off. The Illustrated Man’s spine was broken. October Country was molting pages.
Instead of all my favorites, I handed him a brand new copy of Zen and the Art of Writing. “Are you a writer?” he asked gently.
“I’m working on a novel,” I told him. “It’s hard. I want to get everything right. There’s so much in my head and I’m afraid I won’t get it all down on the paper.”
He smiled at me. “Don’t think so much,” he advised. “Just write. I have faith in you.”
I cradled the book and skipped out of the bookstore, completely elated. He was right. I needed to stop thinking and just write.
One of my favorite lines from Zen and the Art of Writing is this:
“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
Goodbye, Mr. Bradbury. I wish I had had the poetry to tell you how much your stories had meant to me.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports