Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers. —Ray Bradbury, WD(Warning: This diet is not for everyone. It’s only for those individuals who live to write.)
As writers, more than we want to eat, sleep, or whatever, we want to write. I read Kristen Lamb’s blog . Her post on How To Become A Lean, Mean, Writing Machine received many comments. I know, because I commented and received all the follow-up comments via email. I quit counting.
Some of the comments were extremely sad. One lady had lost her child. I can’t imagine anything sadder. Others had lost parents or were dealing with sickness. Some were moms or dads with young children at home, and jobs other than writing.
Most of the commenters registered universal complaints such as life is getting in the way of my writing. Or too busy to write. Or life with all of its fine technology is too hectic.
The Good Old Days? Really?
Pondering the thought of the good old days, I happened across a story that detailed the difficulties science fiction author Ray Bradbury encountered when writing his famous book Fahrenheit 451. I paraphrase from the book, I Used to Know That Literature by C. Alan Joyce and Sarah Janssen.
Ray Bradbury became inspired by the notion of book burning, throughout history, performed by different cultures. This inspiration led to his premise of a fireman who sets fires rather than extinguishes them. The firemen in this dystopian society were paid to burn books.
Bradbury found it difficult to focus on his story idea at home. His vocal newborn daughter contributed to his inability to concentrate. He didn’t have enough money to rent an office, but on a walk around the UCLA campus one day, he found a basement full of typewriters.
The typewriters could be rented for ten cents per half hour. He gathered up a bag loaded with dimes from home and lived down in the Basement Full Of Typewriters for nine days. The result was his novella The Fireman, which he expanded and re-titled Fahrenheit 451. He spent $9.80 to write his award winning novel.
This was in the late 1940s.Bradbury was an autodidact. He said of his education:
Libraries raised me.I don’t believe in colleges and universities.I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money.When I graduated from high school, it was during the depression and we had no money.I couldn’t go to college,So I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.
- Maybe the good old days weren’t all that good — I’m thinking — as I sit here in my cozy office with my very own MacBook Pro.
- Maybe living life as a writer is just a damn hard life, no matter what period of time in history it is—past, present, or future. Or whatever your circumstances might be.
- You have to fight for the time to write, you have to fight for the right to write, you have to fight to eke out a sustainable living for your family, you have to fight to keep your eyes open in the wee hours of the morning — because that’s the only quiet time you have — and then you have to fight to get noticed by someone. Anyone. All the while, losing rather than earning money.
- All the comments in Lamb’s blog echoed the need to break through the barriers, the restraints that keep us from writing, to prioritize and find our Basement Full Of Typewriters (or MacBook Pros, or Dells, or Toshibas, or HPs).
On his eightieth birthday, August 22, 2000, Bradbury said:
The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you’ll come along.
Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91 on June 5, 2012.
Living your life as a writer, would you change it?
Bradbury On Writing
I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me. —Ray Bradbury
Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.—Ray Bradbury
Remember, with writing, what you’re looking for is just one person to come up and tell you,‘I love you for what you do.’Or, failing that, you’re looking for someone to come up and tell you,‘You’re not nuts like people say.’—Ray Bradbury
I absolutely demand of you and everyone I knowthat they be widely read in every damn field there is;in every religion and every art formand don’t tell me you haven’t got time!There’s plenty of time.You need all of these cross-references.You never know when your head is going to use this fuel,this food for its purposes. —Ray Bradbury