I initially went onto the Paris Review website and searched for the names of a couple authors I have read. Nothing. Okay, so I needed a new method for picking a writer. I looked through all the interviewee names in alphabetical order, and while I recognized many of the names, I unfortunately could only pick out 2-3 people who’s writing I’ve actually read. Whoops, maybe I need to read some more classic pieces of writing…..
I selected Ray Bradbury because I remembered reading Fahrenheit 451 in high school and really enjoying the book. I’m really glad I decided to read Bradbury’s interview, because he seemed to have a totally different perspective of writing than the other writers that we had read in class with the “Why I Write” prompt.
What really struck me about Bradbury was how blunt, and matter-of-fact he seems. He seems to have been a very logical, methodical guy who didn’t really fit the stereotypical emotionally distraught, confused, suffering for his art, writer persona. Compared to the other writers we read about in class, he seemed to have a fairly easy time writing. “I don’t understand writers who have to work at it”, Bradbury said, citing his ability to formulate an entire story within a matter of hours once he has an idea down.
Bradbury however was not a born talent. While he never went to college, he said he learned everything he knew by reading books at the library for years until he deemed himself “graduated from the library”. He read all different authors, and all different types of writing. He said it’s important to study how other writers use poetry, novels, essays etc. to accomplish what they’re trying to say. I feel like I need to take this advice to heart, as I think my writing could be greatly improved simply by reading more- a lot more.
Something that was really intriguing to me was the way that Bradbury came up with his ideas. He said he would begin by writing down lists of nouns. The nouns that you write down ultimately come from the combination of all past moments and events you’ve experienced in your life. Once you have your list of nouns, then go back over the list and ask yourself what each word means to you. Why did you write it down? What does it mean for me? He said he never used a notebook to write down ideas. If he wasn’t writing down a list of nouns, the moment he had an idea, he would just immediately stop what he was doing and turn it into a poem, short story, or novel. No outlines, no roadmap, just start writing.
I really like this method that he describes, and I think I am going to challenge myself to try this. I’ll make myself write down five nouns every day for the next week & see what I come up with. Maybe something completely genius, maybe something completely bizarre, but I think it’s a really intriguing way to think about ideas and beginning a piece of writing. Maybe it will end up working out for me!
Lastly I just wanted to document two quotes that really stuck out to me. I like how they speak to the “just do it” attitude Bradbury seemed to have had & an attitude I really admire:
“Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.”
“I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. If you behave every day to the top of your genetics, what can you do?”