This morning, I read a heart-felt tribute to the late Ray Bradbury written by TVWeek editor Chuck Ross. It was all about inspiration and about how Mr. Bradbury learned to follow his passions even when those around him told him not to. In his post, Mr. Ross quotes a speech Ray Bradbury gave to students at the American Film Institute. The section that floored me was this:
“I learned my first valuable lesson when I was nine years old. I collected ‘Buck Rogers’ comic strips. I loved Buck Rogers. I thought he was the greatest thing that ever happened in the world. All my friends made fun of me, and I listened to them and I tore all the strips up. “About a month later I burst into tears. I asked myself, ‘Why am I crying?’ The answer was that something was gone from the center of my life. I had allowed other people to use their authority against my taste. The first lesson you have to learn in this world is to go by your own taste. Don’t listen to anyone else. “Be what you are with all your heart and soul, because that's all you’re ever going to have. You have to trust yourself. So I went back to Buck Rogers and said, ‘I love you madly.’ My life was restored, and from then on I never listened to anyone else in the world, because you’re the only person who knows anything about your loves. “You can’t ever listen to the advice of anyone in this world about the things you need, the things you want, the things that excite you. The only way to explain these things to people is through your work. Those of you who are writers, get it on paper. Become your own critic. You’ll be the best critic you’ll ever have …”When I was young, I was in love with monster movies. I plastered my room with Frankenstein posters and lined the walls with Aurora monster model kits. I read everything I could get my hands on about Universal Studios and how monster movies were made and everyone around me thought I was nuts. Little girls didn't build models. Little girls should line their walls with ballerina posters, not Dracula bending over a sleeping woman. I didn't know it then, but I learned a lot about storytelling from studying those movies. And then, one day, a couple of TV shows wormed their way in between all the monsters and I found out that I could write. Fan Fiction. Such a dirty word. But I loved my TV shows so much, I didn't want them to end, so I kept them going by writing new stories for the characters I adored. Monsters made their way into my stories because I never truly gave up on that passion and again people wondered why I wasted so much time writing fan fiction and fan girling over TV. I didn't let it stop me. It made me happy and you're supposed to be happy, right? That "happy" led me to California. It led me walk on the same ground Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi walked on. The ground that Hardy Boys and Alias Smith and Jones crews filmed on. And all those years of writing led me to writing for pay and suddenly, one day I was working on movies and writing for a living. But recently, something terrible happened. I stopped being happy. My passion for monsters and TV and fan fiction was gone. The days and nights became about working and grocery shopping and paying bills and cooking and cleaning and expecting a crisis around every corner. And no matter how hard I try to ignore the feeling, I can see it in my fiction. When I try to write, it doesn't come out the way it used to. And then I got up this morning and found this post by Chuck Ross. It's titled "We All Need a Little Inspiration to Start That Pet Project We've Been Meaning to Start, or Continue, or Finish. This Should Fit the Bill." As you can imagine, that title called out to me and when I read the piece I could see where I went wrong. I had given up on my passions. I let too many pounds on my hips and an aching knee and a bad economy wring every bit of happiness out of life. That sucks. So, here I am, confessing my deepest thoughts to anyone who reads this because I think the message is important. So, important, I even broke my own rule about never writing about those who have recently passed. (I'm superstitious that way.) At the end of his post, Mr. Ross references a Bradbury short story that he'd like us all to read. Then he adds,
What if you read it, I think in my fantasy, and it inspires you as it inspired me? How wonderful! And somewhere, out there in the eternity of space, Ray Bradbury would smile.#Chuck, I haven't read Ray's story yet, but your post has inspired me more than anything I've seen in a long time. Thanks. I'm now going to crack open that novel I've been wanting to finish and I promise, when I sell the book (see, that's me thinking positively), I'll dedicate it to you and Ray Bradbury.