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As Nick Mamatas said today, there's a lot of grief coming out of the woodwork about people who haven't given much of a damn about Ray in the last few years—even from people who panned his recent work and recent choices. That's okay, really. Sometimes you don't know what someone means to you until they're gone and if the news of how amazing Ray was spreads far and wide, all the better.

Ray Bradbury meant a great deal to me as a child. There was no one who could touch the childlike imagination while speaking adult language the way he did. As a child, I had no patience for children's books but little context for many adult novels. Also, he was the first person to make me realize that sometimes children are justified in locking their parents in a room with a pride of lions (see: The Veldt). Of course, as I grew up, stories like Fahrenheit 451 gave me reason to think that this writing thing I did had meaning in the greater scheme of things. His writing felt accessible, attainable.

When I got older, I discovered the same incredible spirit in his book ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING. Chuck Wendig rightly points out that it's kind of loopy, but it's loopy the way that writers need sometimes. It is a book about writing joyfully, writing from a child's sense of wonder, and writing under all manner of conditions. It is a book about pounding out a novel as fast as possible on a typewriter that cost $0.10 for every 20 minutes. It cost him $9.80 to write Fahrenheit 451. I did the math—that's just under 33 hours. If you ever feel tired and cynical and not good enough about writing, this book is a good pill to swallow.

When Ray was a little boy his great love was the carnival, especially the side shows. One time, Mr. Electro zapped him with a blue spark and said to him, "Live forever!". He gave it a good shot, making it to age 91, and I hope this new surge of interest will make sure his work carries on and on.

Here's a few short stories to give you a taste:
http://www.jerrywbrown.com/datafile/datafile/110/ThereWillComeSoftRains_Bradbury.pdf
http://www.lasalle.edu/~didio/courses/hon462/hon462_assets/sound_of_thunder.htm
http://mikejmoran.typepad.com/files/pedestrian-by-bradbury-1.pdf
http://www.veddma.com/veddma/Veldt.htm (the colour scheme/font here is appalling, sorry)


Back to us and our writing: what writers were meaningful to you coming to understand that you might be a writer, too?

This poll is re-reading some Bradbury )

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