Ray Bradbury, and Writing Fiction

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Ray Bradbury
* If You Believe Writing Fiction Is Hard Work
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

“Though it cleared the launch pad, Starship’s first orbital launch attempt ended with a dramatic explosion, or as SpaceX put it, ‘a rapid unscheduled disassembly’.” Chris Young, for Interesting Engineering. Great spin, no?

“Night is everything. The shadows come out from under the trees and shadows become night.” Ray Bradbury

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Joan Didion

“Wow, so much negativity. Forearms flung across foreheads all over the place. Lighten up. Writing fiction is fun. You’re telling a story, not finding a cure for cancer.” Me, after a lot of other comments on “Reader Friday: Advice” at https://killzoneblog.com/2023/04/reader-friday-advice-2.html.

Ray Bradbury

My friend Gary V emailed with a link to an article on Ray Bradbury. Sharing it and the interview with you here, but I’ll let Gary introduce it to you as he did to me:

“Great piece about Bradbury. In the interview at the very bottom we see how visual he was, how a movie studio could take one of his stories and shoot it with almost no ‘treatment.’ It’s interesting that not showing an alien/monster made it more frightening. Naturally, the movie biz know-it-alls were obstacles.

“BTW – The clip is 11 min. long but the on-screen counter would lead you to believe it’s over an hour.”

Thanks, Gary. Here’s the link: https://www.pulitzer.org/article/spotlight-ray-bradbury

During the interview (at about 5:13) notice what he says about his creative subconscious: that as a result of watching films all his life, often several every week, he “came to Universal as a professional screenwriter. It was all in my psyche; it was all in my blood. I didn’t have to think about it.”

If You Believe Writing Fiction Is Hard Work

Now contrast Bradbury’s attitude with that of so many at places like Kill Zone blog. God, I get bone-weary of know-it-alls talking about how hard it is to write fiction. If you would like to see some of the most negative, horrible (yet standard and typical) writing advice to date, click the link in the last Quote of the Day.

Folks, if you find that writing fiction is hard work or something that’s almost impossible to do, if you think it isn’t a ton of outright fun, then

  1. you’re overthinking it, exactly as you’ve been taught to do, and
  2. you’re doing it wrong. And
  3. don’t hand me that “whatever works for me” crap, because if whatever you’re doing actually “worked” for you, you would enjoy the process.

Writing fiction is an exercise in telling stories, sitting alone in a room making sh-tuff up. If you believe writing fiction is hard work, grab a shovel and a pick-axe and drop by my house. I’ll supervise while you learn what hard work actually is.

As I wrote in one of the quotes of the day above, lighten up. Writing fiction is fun. You’re an entertainer, a person telling a story that, in the overall scheme, doesn’t matter in the slightest. You’re not finding a cure for cancer.

And if you think what you’re writing is important in any way, you should probably seriously consider getting over yourself.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Anatomy of a Fake Literary Agency Scam” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/anatomy-of-a-fake-literary-agency-scam/.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 570

Writing of Wes Crowley: Deputy US Marshal 2 (WCG9SF4)

Day 11… 0323 words. Total words to date…… 19819
Day 12… 2445 words. Total words to date…… 22264
Day 13… 3184 words. Total words to date…… 25448

Total fiction words for April……… 17276
Total fiction words for 2023………… 83464
Total nonfiction words for April… 16030
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 78290
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 161754

Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 72
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 221
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark, adherence to Heinlein’s Rules, and that following the myths of fiction writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

6 thoughts on “Ray Bradbury, and Writing Fiction”

  1. The first comment on the Killzone blog where the writer lists his ‘advice’ struck me. He says to read your novel to your crit group and they’ll tell you where it stinks.
    Really? Will they? That’s funny because I remember back when I used to seek criticism to ‘improve’ my work it would always be different opinions on what worked and what didn’t. No two people had the same opinion, some loved sections others hated!
    That always happened until, finally, I decided to give up and trust myself (of course, Dean’s blog and yours helped a lot with that).

    Another comment that caught my attention was where someone said writing a novel isn’t as easy as everyone thinks, which left me with the feeling they must struggle over every word instead of just writing and enjoying themselves.
    Writing a novel, short story, screenplay, is easy. Its not construction. Its not brain surgery. Its literally sitting down at your computer (or notebook if you write longhand) and writing words on a page. Its a time to be creative and have fun and let ‘the magic flow’ so to speak.
    I love to write, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, but if I thought how some of these people did I fear I wouldn’t get very far before dropping it and finding something I actually enjoyed.

    • Yup, pretty much my thoughts exactly. Hard to believe at one time I actually included the person who believes writing a novel isn’t as easy as everyone thinks as a contributor to my Pro Writers Write (PWW) website. Fortunately, she left PWW to join TKZ.

      A few days ago I canceled my subscription to Jane Friedman’s weekly blog digest (too many “writers” with one novel and a dozen or so how-to write nonfiction books handing out free advice) and I’m about to stop visiting TKZ too. Just isn’t worth the time and frustration, wathing them hand out horrible advice and the babies lapping it up.

      • It never ceases to amaze me how so many writers (or would be writers) will listen to people who only have one novel under their belt on how to write fiction and buy the nonfiction ‘how to’ books they peddle, yet turn their noses up at people like you and Dean who have many, many books and stories in their resume because they don’t tote the myths.
        Bizarre beyond belief.

  2. Well, I have to disagree in part. My writing *is* important TO ME. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t do it.

    Whether it’s important to anyone else or not – that I have no control over, and try not to think about because (as I read many years ago):
    Some will (like it).
    Some won’t.
    So what?

    • I think I understand, Peggy. THAT I write is important to me too. Otherwise I wouldn’t do it. But WHAT I write, the individual story, doesn’t matter in the slightest to me. If it matters in any real way to anyone, it matters to the individual reader for whom it makes a difference. I literally couldn’t tell you even the name of the last short story I wrote, much less anything about it. If the individual story mattered to me, I’d attempt to “perfect” it, and that would freeze me solid.

      Of course, your results might differ. If every story you write is important to you and you can do that without it slowing you to a crawl or freezing you, good for you. But I’ll wager that anyone who writes into the dark and adheres to Heinlein’s Rules will get a great deal more practice at putting new words on the page (and greatly improve their level of craft) than those who attempt to perfect each story and novel they write.

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