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Ray Bradbury Vision on Creativity

A reflection by Tom Gilbert - © June 8, 2012

In Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing (a really terrifically inspirational book) he speaks of a new definition for work - the word he uses is love. Well, there it is. You must love what you do and if you love the work you do then you are alive, full of purpose, and happy (even in the inevitable struggles that work can bring).

Bradbury died on Tuesday, June 5. It kind of snuck up on me and that disappoints me somewhat. But you discover news when you do and I guess last night working at the hospital in the middle of the night was that time for me. I was  reading the Google alert emails I get for the term "life story writing". I opened the two most recent and they were filled with news stories and tributes to the great imaginative/speculative/sci-if giant. The story by Alan Duke, Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury dies, on is pretty good.  But I like even better Why Bradbury's words will live forever by Peter debruge, written for Variety.

Ray Bradbury, sci-fi legend, dies at 91He was 91 and I've been kind of watching for news about his inevitable passing because he's always been one of those writers I admire and I've loved his views on creativity. Ray Bradbury was much more than a science fiction writer. Yes, he made his mark in that genre, but he was prolific in poetry, horror, speculative fancy and wrote numerous plays/screenplays/teleplays, essays and even opera. Ultimately (like all great writers) his work cannot categorized in one genre. There is much of his work I've yet to read, just as there is some I would love to return to. Fahrenheit 451 was a masterpiece, of course, and with an important message about preserving books, and therefore, literacy. Martian Chronicles showcased both the type and packaging of Bradbury's work. Short stories were his forte and Chronicles is a collection of whimsical and imaginative tales set on the Red Planet. The setting is more important that any story about unusual Martian life, for what Bradbury was doing was using the setting and his imagination to turn a mirror on ourselves and get us to reflect on our own humanity.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray BradburyI didn't realize at the time how important a little book a radio co-worker gave me a few years ago would turn out to be. Inspiration and motivation continue to be the gift from reading Zen in the Art of Writing. As recently as a few weeks ago I was quoting it to a writer friend, a poet in Mississippi with whom I am working on a second book about his life.

The subtitle of the book is "Releasing the Creative Genius Within You". Isn't that exactly what I've been praying for (directly or indirectly) these past three or four years? Ray Bradbury, whether you know it or not, you are part of my story and I thank you for your gift which you've shared with so many others. Your imagination was fired and you helped us climb into your worlds with the memories you shared from growing up in Waukegan, Illinois. I especially liked your reflection on a late 4th of July evening when you and your grandpa released "fire balloons" into the night sky.  

Stories matter - the ones from your personal life experiences and the ones that rise up from the depths of your imagination. Stoke your creative vision. Love your writing, for you are giving birth and as we all know, life and death are the perfect bookends for all this wondrous living that goes on in between.


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