The first manuscript I ever attempted to write was inspired by Ray Bradbury. I had just finished reading Dandelion Wine during a flight, and I immediately put down the book, opened my laptop, and began to write. I didn’t get very far. After a few chapters, I realized that I was writing in Bradbury’s voice rather than my own. I didn’t even know what my voice was like, yet, but I knew that imitation would get me nowhere.
Today, Mr. Bradbury died at the age of 91. The man who wanted to live forever has passed into the next adventure of his existence. Bradbury wrote an essay about a childhood encounter with Mr. Electrico, the sideshow man who got electrocuted every night. Mr. Electrico had shouted, “Live forever!” at Bradbury, and although his physical form has expired, there is no doubt that Bradbury will live forever through his work and his influence.
I’ve talked about my love of Bradbury’s work on this blog before, but it was also his outlook that inspired me. He wrote every day, and he dreamed big: he was going to be a successful author, and that was that. He was going to Live Forever through his work.
In his biography The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller, the author includes a quote from Bradbury about this very subject:
“The thing that makes me happy is that I know that on Mars, two hundred years from now, my books are going to be read. They’ll be up on dead Mars with no atmosphere. And late at night, with a flashlight, some little boy is going to peek under the covers and read The Martian Chronicles on Mars.”
While Bradbury is best known for Fahrenheit 451, it’s his October Country books that I love best, particularly Something Wicked This Way Comes. I also love Dandelion Wine and The Halloween Tree.
And it’s thanks to the inspiration of authors like Bradbury that I, too, call myself an author. My mom met Weller and had her copy of The Bradbury Chronicles signed to her and me. Weller’s inscription is simple but poignant: “Live Forever!”