I just have to say it. My life was ruined by people who had to bend my creativity and abilities to turn me into a computer programmer and lots of other things I HATED.
Nobody in my family has ever asked why I don't try and write for a living.
Did they assume I knew I was a great writer and that I didn't want to do that?
I have to say, it felt like they were saying no, you are not good enough to even try and be a writer, you are not good enough to want to write a book or a movie.
Like I had to be as miserable as they were. Like I didn't even have the right to try!
So here I am, Zen, saying YES, I can write. This is all coming out of me instantly, this is not a gag. I type what I think and this is what comes out. Fast.
What if I actually tried?
So yes, thank you Ray Bradbury. Thank you for explaining to me in Zen in the Art of Writing who I am.
It's about me from now on. The 39-year-old aging nothing. Watch me. I can fly.
Good luck with your writing. Ray will continue to do good for millenniums to come. One thing about Ray that blew me and probably everyone who knew him away was the way he always insisted, "You have your own work. Do your work," as if yours was or ever could be as important as his. But I guess that's the point--we don't know so we can't say it's not.
My problem was similar to yours, but more complicated. I am still trying to figure it out. One thing my dad said to me repeatedly growing up was, "You can write!" I remember it distinctly because it's one of the very few good things he had to say to me. He would almost never say anything good and the few times he tried to and didn't really mean it it didn't come across as sincere, so I know he really meant this, and he hardly said it to anyone. (He was an English teacher and copy editor and went on at length about why other people COULDN'T write--from which I learned much including maybe a little too much caution.)
He also never said I couldn't write for a living. (Quite the contrary.) He also thought my photography was all right. It may be on a level with my writing but I purposely never pursued it professionally or tried to learn things that would elevate it above hobby level because I didn't want to become anxious and miserable over my photography as I always was about my writing.
The one thing my dad told me I COULD NOT DO was write professionally and make a living at it. (I'm 50 and this is so far true but I don't know how much is due to the decades of negativity thrown at me mostly from my dad.) Dad always wanted me to go into photojournalism of which I have a horror for the following reasons.
1. I'm not interested in it.
2. It has the lasting value of literature, but only to a certain extent. It is not timeless in the way of good literature--even when literature is based on historical events set in times which have changed.
3. You have to live in the present and chase the story, which would leave me tired and frustrated. One historical event which fascinated me was the Kennedy assassination, and one aspect which grabbed me was the photographs. The journalist who saw a gun in the School Book Depository window just after he had snapped his last frame of film, the fellow who snapped a fraction of a second early when Jack Ruby had his gun out when the other snapped just as Oswald was shot (a thing no one could have known). All the people whose view was partially blocked during John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s famous salute, snapped late, or didn't see it at all. I just couldn't live with the missed shot because the camera acted up, I was looking the other way, or someone jostled me, besides my lack of interest. So then my dad was not only calling me no-talent (as far as writing well but not being good enough to sell it--well, what's the point of that?) but mad at me for ignoring his "good advice."
One fascinating conversation I had with my sister on our recent trip was how we have both always wanted to write and start a project but something stops us. We don't know what this something is or why. I know I get very discouraged when I have enthusiasm on a subject and get beaten down by those who "know better." Ray is one of the few subjects where this has so far not happened so I think I better write about him and how he inspires people.
Thank you so much. I need to get to the grocery store before it gets hot so I am ABSOLUTELY reading more this afternoon.
The one thing I have always needed in my life were people who knew about being able to write and not just those impressed and, yes, put off, by what we try to do.
Thanks, dandelion. The moderator here has already censored me. Not that I didn't deserve it, but (to borrow from Vonnegut, whom I did meet once), and so it goes.
I do feel everything you are saying. I wrote the wildest, craziest, fun stories and essays in fourth grade. The teacher didn't get it, she even wrote stuff like "WEIRD" on my papers.
And from then on, I assumed it was just a sport, a hobby, what everyone could do and I was no better.
Or, in fact, weird!
Then I saw all my peers get recognition for their achievements in math and science, the kudos for the jocks, the wows for the computer geeks. Everyone but me.
That's when I gave up. I studied accounting in school, I was a computer programmer in L.A. for ten years never once daring to dream I could write comedy or my own screenplay.
Like I didn't even have the right to try.
And the photography? I have taken so, so many beautiful photos around L.A., and now close to San Francisco I have taken a lifetime of gorgeous shots.
Only to be met with a shrug and a nod from anyone I show them to, while I look patiently at their badly composed vacation pictures.
So thank you, dandelion. I won't be back here because I don't ego surf.
But I really, truly needed someone to tell me it was okay to at least try to do what I love and what I can do better than a lot of people.
To this day, I still do not get this from my family.
My book, my opus, will be the story of how I was hit with manic depression so bad just before my 30th that I hallucinated my way around the San Fernando Valley so hard I should not be here. And twice since I have been given a "time out" by the state of California.
It's awful, think "A Beautiful Mind" with words, except my delusions were the whole Christ thing and a lot of "The Matrix."
Thanks for listening, if more than dandelion is. There will be a book, and this site and me using Mr. Bradbury and quoting him and showing my inspiration on Facebook (which I too have) will be a chapter.
That sounds fascinating and please feel free to return.
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