Thursday, June 6, 2013

Remembering Ray Bradbury: Redux

Two blogs in row. I know, right? Anyway, I felt like yesterday's blog was a bit rushed and didn't really touch upon how Bradbury's work has impacted me as a writer, especially recently, so I thought a supplemental blog was in order.

When I started writing, like many genre writers I'm sure and apparently like Bradbury (as stated in his biography, The Bradbury Chronicles), my stories were very imitative. I set out to write "horror" stories like the ones I'd read. Even AFTER I started widening my reading diet, I STILL found myself copying those who had come before me, copying their technique, style, and plots.

They weren't bad stories, so much. A few attempted to be thematic. But they weren't...me.


And that's what Bradbury wrote. Stories that were, in some way, even if very small....him. Stories that came from his personal experiences or observations or struggles. And after reading about his life, it's amazing how many of his short stories came from his personal experiences.

About a year ago, I started a journal, more like a list, really, of short story ideas, things that popped into my head from personal observations or experiences. The very first one of those to get written is my serial novella with Lamplight Magazine, "And I Watered It, In Tears." (First issue is free, second and third are on Amazon Kindle). Now, it's definitely horror. But the core of it comes from a frightening, deeply personal experience that still leaves me uneasy, even today.

Last summer, my daughter and I spent the night at my father's house, where I grew up.  I slept in my bedroom, IN MY BED. And before I went to sleep, I wrote twenty pages of what I think will be a coming of age novel, and it all came from my memories of growing up, and I practically have an outline of the novel, loosely based on a year from my life.

The current novella is based on a personal observation, something that I see every day when I drive to work, and also, I've made my protagonists very close to people I knew as a kid, even utilizing the first person narrative, making the barrier between my characters and myself very thin.

There's something...different, here. A fresher voice. Ideas that stream forth much easier. Along the way, I've switched over to typing first, and the results have been impressive. I have no idea how this will impact my writing, but that's been Ray Bradbury's gift to me: channeling personal experiences, writing very close to my heart, and simply sitting down and taking off, "rattling the keys" as Norman Partridge once put it.

And it feels good. It feels REALLY good. Will it make a difference?

Who knows?

But count me just one of thousands touched by Bradbury's magic....