I am embarking on a new life. After a long life of doing what I thought I should do and not feeling fullfilled, I am finally doing what Ray was trying to tell me to do for over 40 years. Write. Don't worry about the other stuff. It will work out.
A few details to explain this nebulous statement.
I was born in Southern California, not far from L.A. and Hollywood. My Mother was a musician as were my Aunts, Uncle, Grandmother, etc. My Mother decided that my sister was going to be the next Shirley Temple. As a result of this delusion I spent a lot of time in and around Hollywood (back in a time when a young kid could room the streets freely without fear of being kidnapped or worse).Not a bad thing really, after all, I was left to wander as I wished. I spent a lot of time in bookstores, magic shops, and music stores. Wallachs Music City was my favorite. So the seeds of creativity and freedom were planted. Hanging around wannabe actors, musicians and writers also thoroughly fertilized the seeds.
My Dad, on the other hand, thought it was fun to mingle with the likes of Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dennis Day, etc., but he thought that a career in entertainment was pretty risky and that any sane man would steer towards a steady job with a steady paycheck. Thus a good dose of reality threw salt on the budding crop of dreams for the future
During high school I played in a band to make money. We played school dances, parties, etc. After high school I hung around musicians and played some. Now here comes Ray Bradbury... I was friends with a group of musicians that played in the Hollywood Area, The Whiskey, etc. They had groupies. Most of the groupies lived in the area and had gone to Hollywood High. Many of them were the children of actors, producers, composers, writers, etc. After a while I let it slip that I didn't want to be a musician, I wanted to be a writer. It was soon decided that I should be paired with Mona Bradbury. Although I was intrigued with the idea of Mona and her famous writer dad, it scared the Hell out of me because I was not ready to settle down. So I ran. I should also mention that alcohol and smoking weed was clouding my brain at the time.
The next few years were very foggy. I partied a lot. Met a lot of interesting people. Went to college on and off. Generally drifting around and doing nothing productive. One strange thing kept occurring; I kept running into Ray Bradbury! I went to a poetry reading in Long Beach and there was Ray reading some stuff he was interested that I call "space poetry". In the desert one night I went to a talk at a college near Victorville; and there was Ray talking about writing. I decided to take a writing class at Cerritos College in Norwalk. The professor told us to go to a lecture for extra credit, and there was Ray, giving a talk. I often would talk to him at these "meetings". He would look at me and ask if we had met. I was afraid that Mona (her real name is Ramona) was pissed off at me although I'm not sure if she would even remember me after all that time had passed. I would answer no. During this time I read a lot of Bradbury. The talks/readings and the written works of Ray kept saying "do what you have a passion for" look to your heart and go there". I didn't go there, I went into manufacturing like my dad. I went back to school and got 3 degrees. All of them in a technical field. I took literature classes when I could fit them in. I wrote a lot and even got published, but almost always in a non-fiction genre. I eventually left manufacturing and went into teaching engineering classes. My wife went to a bookstore in Newport Beach one day to buy a couple of books for my birthday. She came home very excited and said she had purchased a couple of books from a very nice old man and that they had talked for quite awhile about his grandchildren and she had told him about our children.He picked out a couple of books he thought I might like and autographed them. She just had to give them to me, she just felt I would want to see them although my birthday was still a few weeks away. I opend the box and looked in. There were two books inside. When I opened the front cover I looked at the inscription. There in bold, black, felt pen was the inscription JIM! RAY BRADBURY. Wow, that rattled me. Shortly after that we moved from California and went to Oklahoma.
I have grown children. a wife, a dog and a cat. I read a lot. I write a lot. I write fiction. I keep it to myself. Rarely does anyone read it.
I bought and read "ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING" 2 years ago. Damn you Ray, you never give up, do you? There was the final bit of advice. A piece of his personal history. He rented a typewriter and wrote short stories. He did this in the library at UCLA. UCLA! I spent a lot of years in the librairies at UCLA and UCI working on a doctorate that I finally left undone; it just didn't make me want to get up in the morning. So I am forever ABD. But what is worse than ABD "All But Dissertation" is NDI "Never Did It" I never just rented a typewriter and holed up in the basement and wrote. It now is clear. JUST DO IT!
So now I am doing it. I am moving back home to California. I am writing. I really don't care about all the stuff. I am selling most of the stuff. I'm going to find a basement. Rent a typewriter. And write.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jim Snow,
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