Happening upon "Something Wicked This Way Comes" one October day at the library some years ago (the title intrigued me), I quite unexpectantly was treated to the greatest literary experience of my life up to that point. I was shown, not told, the story I had dreamed of living as a boy. Ray put into words the subtle emotions I had once felt that I did not believe could be described by any known language. For example: "The salesman walked about three feet, stopped, and hunched his shoulders. Suddenly he seemed aware of house windows or the cold sky staring at his neck." I had felt that very sensation before, and forgotten it, but the eerie mystery of it awoke in me the instant I read that last sentence.
That day I discovered what real, true writing looked like. And I have been cursed ever since. Like many of the other subscribers to this site, I hope to one day be able to call myself a writer. I've wanted to be one since I first gave thought to an occupation, which was long before I encountered Ray. But now that I've read him, I'm afraid I'll never measure up, for I absolutely cannot settle for anything less. There are rare occasions, usually late at night just before I fall asleep, when words and phrases come to me that I know derive from the same source that Ray so effectively draws from. Yet during the day when I try to write them, they get lost somewhere between my brain and my finger tips. Just today I finished a short story that I've worked on for weeks and still is very much that "hacked and beaten-out" type of writing.
Anyways, does anyone have any ideas on how to access that source (I guess it would be called the subconscious) without the use of psychadelics? I've thought about placing myself in a sensory deprivation tank with a recorder to uh...record my thoughts. I guess more than answers I'm hoping to hear from others who identify.
Also--I hope I'll be forgiven for this plug--if anyone wants to sample a few essays from this newbie poster you can find them at www.oftenoctober.blogspot.com.
Welcome to this board! Still kinda new here myself.
Two books you may find helpful:
BECOMING A WRITER by Dorothea Brande
Ray Bradbury's own ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING
In another book, RAY BRADBURY A LIFE OF FICTION the authors Jonathan R. Eller and William F Touponce write in the intoduction
"At age eighteen, Bradbury was strongly influenced by Dorothea Brande's BECOMING A WRITER(1934), which emphasizes the unconscious
as "the great home of form" and stresses the importance of feeding the unconcious mind with art works it loves. In seeking to become a wrier himself, Bradbury adopted many practices from this book so that he could allow his unconscious mind to express itself freely without the curbing restictions of the intellect."
Good luck to you in all your creativities!
Welcome! You bring up many interesting points.
Ray speaks a different language than we - fortunately, we can read it! Do you know what you are Mr Bradbury? You're a poet!
Take comfort in this fact: no one will ever be another Ray Bradbury. And no one will ever be another you.
The muse likes to play amongst the subconscious. It's difficult, and I offer no easy solution save for one offered by Ray himself: "Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down!" Or "Throw up in the morning. Clean up at night." Ray eschews intellectualism, and lives his life on emotion. It's worked for him, and it's working for me too.
Rod Serling once said that anyone who needs drugs to be a good writer isn't a good writer.
Welcome to this board and welcome to the club, Honorary Son! You are reading my mail and my innermost thoughts! To read more, check out the "Absolute Write Water Cooler" where I've been asking the very same question. (And answered myself with, I don't care if you smoke a room full of grass for enlightenment, even if Paul McCartney said it, you ain't gonna write like him 'cause you don't have his talent--and there are a lot of burned-out would-be musicians to prove it.)
And yes, THE major drawback is that I won't settle for anything less than at least Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, and the Beatles combined, and the older I get the worse it just gets because "by my age I should have come up with something."
Well, you have found one here and if you go to Absolute Write you'll find others soon enough.
Lately I've been dwelling on two of Ray's stories. The one, I'm too lazy to look up the title but it's in one of the latest collections about a writer who kicks another writer all over a bookstore because he gave up writing in favor of something really stupid like trick shooting. The other, "Any Friend of Nicholas Nickelby's is a Friend of Mine," and, if you want to add further confusion, "The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone."
The messages being, talented writer giving up writing to pursue something frivolous = bad, untalented writer giving up writing okay, but ONLY because he pursued the REALLY worthy cause of interpreting a truly great writer. Dudley Stone, giving up writing to further experience life, also fine, but only if you have a life great enough to devote yourself to the experience. I long ago (okay, Jr. High School, right after discovering Ray's work) shut myself off from certain aspects of life BECAUSE they would interfere with my writing (or so I told myself at the time--rethinking that now.)
In real life, Ray is not perfect. He tends to make absolute statements, sometimes glaringly wrong, and won't even consider alternate viewpoints. We recently finished a run of Fiddler on the Roof and I've been watching PBS shows detailing the persecution of Jews and other ethnic groups in Europe and thought extensively about how Ray's remark that all the Jews should move to Palm Beach is wrong on so many levels. How could anyone with moderate intelligence and ANY understanding of history make such a statement?
The same with Native Americans, just finished watching the five-part PBS series We Shall Remain. I forget the exact wording of Ray's remark, but it was basically something to the effect that they had nothing to complain about. Well, know why California Indians aren't interviewed in these shows? BECAUSE THEY KILLED ALL BUT ONE OF THEM! Yes, Ray's state was the scene of perhaps the worst ethnic genocide in a nation of ethnic genocide. Lesson: if you belong to an ethnic minority and some white dude is suggesting you all get together in one place, RUN AS FAST AS POSSIBLE IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION! Yet Ray has no patience with any of this.
These things, sadly, constitute my main hope, yet I know from unfortunate experience that the important thing is not to be right about ANY given subject, no matter how important to you, research it, and present it in your best manner, but to have the talent to say anything in the catchiest, most beautiful and poetic manner so that millions of people love it even if it's wrong. I've discovered this is all that matters and it's driving me slowly insane. Which is why Paul McCartney and Ray Bradbury are who they are, and, uh, everyone else is not. I'm not trying to impugn their sincerity here--doubtless they really did believe the things expressed in their best work--I'm just sayin'.
That alone, though, does not seem to justify quitting. It will take something more, I think. to really nail the lid on the ol' coffin. Don't get me wrong, Ray is the #1 promoter of self-expression and people doing their own original work. The problem is with me questioning whether my best work is "good enough."
Welcome and good luck!
Good old Rod. Now I feel better. Ray also said that if you need chemical assistance to start, you will need it to continue, which is not good. This is also being currently discussed at Absolute Write.
Thanks everyone for the swift responses. I'm really glad to see such an active community on these forums. Today I found my copy of Zen in the Art of Writing and began drinking deep the wisdom of ol' Ray again. And I already feel better. My thanks to Brother Tarkas for inspiring me to pick it back up. I'll have to check out the other book you mentioned by Ms. Brande.
Now to the issue of reaching into the subconscious. In a review of Ms. Brande's book on writing I read that she advocates the use of meditation before writing. Does anyone know if this is something Ray picked up on or not? For that matter, does anyone HERE use meditation as a means to clear their mind/meet their inner child/project their consciousness to other places in the world as a way to control events? Seriously, I read about a program that claimed to be able to teach people how to do this. And if anyone here knows how to do that, teach me! I have a list of politicians I'd love to give an old fasioned psychic beat-down.
I had the benifit of getting to see mr bradburry in person last night. He gave a talk and signed books and inspired me which is why i am feel like sharing my experience with you. Now i have never been a fan of his work, probally because i was forced to read them in HS and i could never say "i love ray", after hearing him speak last night i can honestly say i love that man, and i am going to reread grapes with a mature mind now. What it comes down to is he writes because he loves to and he said "do what you love and love what you do" That seemed to be the theme of his whole life. And as i was listening to this man speak he seemed like a frail human to me and not some sort of iconic writing diety with an unobtainable natural gift for writing. He also told how he never went to college, he was too poor, he got his education at the public library. He satarted his degree "at the library" at age 17 and completed his degree "at the library" at the age of 28. I can only assume the man read every damn book in the place. Now from someone (me) who lived their life in the subconcience for months at a time, from insomnia, which i use to treat with pot, i can tell you do not do drugs for inspiration to write. I did them long before i was looking for inspiration and one thing i learned is enligntenment cannot be obtained through immediate gratification ie drugs. You do get inspired, but without taking the proper steps to enlightment, ie ACTUAL LIFE EXPERIENCE, it is unorganizable and a difficult story to tell. Plus the only people who would understand are on LSD too, i tried to read on lsd one time and words look foreign and are incomprensable. I am a big fan of twilight zone and mister spaulding is correct in refrencing Rod Serling when he said that anyone who needs drugs to be a good writer isn't a good writer. I heard some where that ben franklin would tap into his subconcience by staying up late and lighting a candle and holding his free hand over it so he wouldnt fall asleep, we all know how creative and origional he was. I wouldnt recomend that, it sounds dangerous, but at least you wont wreck a beautiful mind with speed or lsd. Maybe you could do it with an ice cold bowl of water or somthing, be creative, be safe. In any case Mr bradburry also told how he never felt like he was worthy to talk to the other great writers of his time, even though he was, and eventually did. Infact i got the impression that those were some of the highlights of his life, not the getting to have dinner with them part, but the realization that he was their peer, and the realization that he WAS a writer he WAS a poet he WAS a play write, and that John Steinbeck was simply a human being, like himself. Chuck Palahniuk is a great modern writer, wether or not you agree with that, its a fact, alot of people read and enjoy his books. He was a blue collared worker from oregon. He wrote fight club, and in the afterword he said the first rule of fight club is there is nothing a blue collerd worker from oregon, with only a high school education could think of that a million billion people havent thought of already.
Dont worry about what you are writing and if it fits into the literary structure you may have learned in school, or if people will understand it, dont worry about if anybody likes it, or dosent like it, just write, write what you love and love what you write, you can be or do anything you want when you have no boundaries.
IE: Martian Cronicals
IE: Illistrated Man
This is all comming from a thirty year old blue collared worker, dyslexic, three time collegiate freshman drop out, who hated to read, who took drugs and who wasted years of his life smoking pot. I don't care if i ever become a great writer, i now write to experss myself, and all the experiences i have had, and all of the experiences people have shared with me during my lifetime. This is why iam writing this right now, I am trying to do what i love. If writing is truly what you love it dosent matter if you are ever successful, what matters is when you are old and grey and dying, and you think back on your life and how you spent your short time on this plant, will you truly be able to think that you did what you loved? Or will you regret being a "struggling writer". Like mister bradburry said and i have never here more true words spoken in my life LOVE WHAT WHAT YOU AND DO WHAT YOU LOVE.
That's what the spinal cord is for, it lets the brain move the body! If you want to influence events, go out and use the "projector screen" you were born with: Your own two arms, legs and your voice!
In one of his Prairie Home Companion "News from Lake Wobegon" monologues, Garrison Keillor talked of women who garden to avoid writing works of great literature. I am fast approaching this category.
Funny... I have actually long intended to write a children's book about a couple of young children gardening with their grandfather.
Maybe I'll start it this summer - as I sit out-of-doors early in the morning, attentive to the sounds of creatures awakening, admiring the growth of fragile seedlings now blossoming, hot cup of coffee on that old wooden table, pondering treasured days of my past...
Frank, as a gift to ourselves for our 31st wedding anniversary, my wife and I bought a Dell Studio 15 lap top computer and I have been writing some thoughts down as an exercize, something called Anecdotes and Observations. Attached is a photo of biplane1 and his wife, Barb, who are still in love and like each other.
Michael___Barbara_at_St._Augustine_Beach.jpg (52 Kb, 10 downloads)
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