Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thoughts for Writers

Ray Bradbury: “You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” (I love this guy.)

Mark Twain: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Justice Brandeis: “There is no great writing, only great rewriting.”

Mark Twain: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

Just some thoughts to unite us, as I figure we all are striving for pretty much the same thing. Although some of us are thinking up our first novel and some of us are wondering how to best publicize the fourth, we are still in learning mode. Which brings me to Ray Bradbury, whom I had the opportunity to meet during my first-ever writers’ conference in Palm Springs, 1995 (yikes). I got the strong impression lifelong learning was a way of life for him.

He sauntered into a small room wearing tennis shorts and a T-shirt, sweating a little (it was May in desert Palm Springs, and HOT); he’d apparently been playing right up until his scheduled talk. He leaned his rear end against a desk, stretched out his sneaker-clad feet and began to converse. He spoke about his journey as a writer, but the parts that stuck with me were his attitude, his zest for life and the acquisition of knowledge. He said, “Read every day. Each day, try to read three types of writing: poetry, fiction, and essays.”

I fall down in this endeavor. I get so caught up in my own work that I predominantly read fiction, trying to figure out how a particular author got me to laugh, cry, or gasp with delight. How the writer manipulated my emotions, got me into another reality, feeling the rain, the pain, the joy. So I need to remind myself from time to time of Ray’s advice.

I also like to recall how Bradbury spoke to this room of hopefuls; he talked to us as colleagues, as if he had no doubt that all our books would be successful and all our hopes would come to pass. Mark Twain would have liked him, too.

Rick’s and Donis’s blogs (see below) got me on this train of thought because of two things: where the publishing industry is headed and concurrently, how people within it treat each other, and (is this two or three?) to keep my eye on the big picture—to write each book as well as I can, to improve my skills, and to enjoy myself in the process.

Now I need to get to back to tweaking a manuscript. Thank you, Justice Brandeis, for reminding us that someone as brilliant as you didn’t do it on the first try.

“What is written without effort is read without pleasure.” Samuel Johnson

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Debby, I am SO envious that you met Ray Bradbury. He was my favourite author when I was in my teens and I still drag out his short stories when I need to see "how it's done". You are so fortunate!