Ray Bradbury in “Zen in the Art of Writing.”
I first purchased Bradbury’s life and work-affirming book as a senior in college. I took a memoir-writing class as a way to better articulate the only thing that made sense as a “future”: the life of a writer. What that means now, I’m not sure. The life I imagined at 19, at 21, at 23 is not the life I lead now. But the hunger to keep writing never eases. It is always there, and even when my mind is blank, I know the desire will come back, perhaps even stronger than before.
We had little time to read the book in my class. Life was more complicated and distracting than a small little book. I remember my stories and how they felt inadequate to my classmates. There were deaths and addictions. As the class went on, the stories became more tragic, more riddled with bad than good.
I wrote about my hair, about femininity, about culture and expectation, and what it means to strive for beauty when so much of the world thinks you lack it from birth. I wrote about the internal struggle of self and the internal struggle of community and how the reality of right now means that this struggle, however massive it seems, matters little to the world of straight and fair and light. My professor said I wasn’t challenging myself enough? But isn’t the struggle of birth, of life lived and life to be lived the ultimate challenge?
“When you’ve got time at home,” he began to the whole class, “read this book.”
I didn’t read it until this year.
Ray Bradbury died on June 5 at the age of 91. He lived a full life and had a full mind. His passion for writing coupled with a joy for reading led to one of the greatest, most important books of all time. I knew this in some capacity, but it was not until June 6th that I began to understand.
On the desk on my office is a stack of books I’ve yet to read. Some books I’ve kept since sophomore year of college, anticipating the moment when the book and my life (and the questions I most likely also have) align. Will I ever get to them? I don’t know. But to know this one is to know truth. The preface just oozed with guidance and care. The self-centered part of me considered this as more than a gift. I questioned whether every copy of the book read like this, or if it was just mine that matrialized out of doubts and concerns and frustrations.
There it was, ready to be read, to be loved and cherished, to be underlined and owned. Three pages in, I texted Arianna. What does it mean to be a good writer, to have focus and drive? We’ve had these conversations on and off and I say what I can with the knowledge that I don’t know much and that I probably wont for a long time, for longer than I want. But I wanted her to have this book and this gift, however small. It’s done a lot for my everyday, for my right now.(via britticisms)