“Tom! Come see the play next Sat night. -Ray” Bradbury thought I was a guy named Tom which was perfectly all right with me.
Ray Bradbury died this week. and his death couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. I had been out of the routine of writing every day because as most insecure writers feel, I did not know if what I think means anything new or important.
A quote by Bradbury flashed through my mind a few days ago. Sometimes that happens before I learn of someone dying. I don’t think it’s a sixth sense, it’s more kismet. The quote is from Zen in the Art of Writing:
“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together. Now, it’s your turn. Jump!”
His routine was to write a thousand words in the morning (the landmine) then spend the rest of the day editing (putting the pieces together).
About 3 years ago I was mesmerized by an English teacher friend who had been corresponding with Bradbury for years. I thought I’d give it a try and send him two of my poems. He sent them back to me with this note scrawled:
“Tom!” AI (I think) Thanks! – Ray” I guess my handwritten name might have looked liked Tom to the 89-year-old Bradbury.
He included the next item which is my favorite piece. It’s a brochure about Fahrenheit 451 in Spanish. You can see the ragged edges, where he cut it to fit into the envelope I included with my poems:
Here is the play he invited me to, Falling Upward:
Although I included an envelope, I mistakenly forgot to include a stamp. Luckily Bradbury had a stamp of Edgar Allan Poe, whom he referred to as “Ray’s Papa.”
In a story he tells on his website about how he became a writer, he talks about meeting a magician named Mr. Electrico at a carnival:
Mr. Electrico was a fantastic creator of marvels. He sat in his electric chair every night and was electrocuted in front of all the people, young and old, of Waukegan, Illinois. When the electricity surged through his body he raised a sword and knighted all the kids sitting in the front row below his platform. I had been to see Mr. Electrico the night before. When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, “Live forever!”
It was then, Bradbury said, that he knew he must lead the creative life. And through that creative life, he did exactly as Mr. Electrico commanded him.