The title of this post comes from a book by Ray Bradbury. (He wrote Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes, etc.) This work shows such a love and exuberance for writing. Mr. Bradbury could light a fire under anyone whose enthusiasm has waned. To hear him tell it, you must write to live. You need zest, gusto, and self-knowledge. Like a benevolent mentor, he instills confidence into our often-shaky, artistic souls by telling us we are not crazy for assuming we can tell a good story, that we are right, and the rest of the world is wrong.
You gotta love Ray Bradbury. He loves you. Without ever meeting you. All because you're a writer. If you haven't read Zen In The Art Of Writing, put it on your to-read list. It is short and effusive and unabashedly sentimental. It's a Chicken Soup For The Soul for writers.
This is one of my favorite sections. To set the scene, in 1925 Illinois, a young Ray Bradbury is on the cusp of adolescence. It's the 4th of July, and he is setting off fire balloons. (They are tiny, colorful paper replicas of hot air balloons.) These sparkly, floating incendiaries sound beautiful but dangerous, and Ray is entranced by them. Surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins and parents, he releases them reluctantly into the air. He looks at the dear faces around him as the balloons lift toward the sky and the moment is poignantly imprinted on his memory.
Mr. Bradbury shares this story to illustrate how writers are like time machines. We can preserve life by recording it. Though age alters us, and the people we love, we are captured forever through the written word. To quote from Zen:
"I see my grandfather there looking up at that strange shifting light, thinking his own thoughts. I see me, my eyes filled with tears, because it was all over, the night was done, I knew there would never be another night like this. No one said anything. We all just looked up at the sky. . .
"My beloved family still sits on the porch in the dark. The fire balloon still drifts and burns in the night sky of an as yet unburied summer."
See? Our experiences remain unburied if we write them down. And I feel like one of Ray's family when I read that account. As though I, too, am sitting on that porch, gazing at a fiery light rising into the inky darkness.
Do you put your memories in your stories, readers? Both good and bad? Do you keep a journal?
Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend.