Ray Bradbury

Ali

Enough now. There you have it. There are one hundred stories from almost forty years of my life contained in my collected stories. They contain half the damning truths I suspected at midnight, and half of the saving truths I re-found next noon. If anything is taught here, it is simply the charting of the life of someone who started out to somewhere—and went. I have not so much thought my way through life as done things and found what it was and who I was after the doing. Each tale was a way of finding selves. Each self found each day slightly different from the one found twenty-four hours earlier. – from Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury Ray Bradbury, who died this week aged 91, has had an immeasurable impact on my writing.  Perhaps moreso than any other writer, even though I’ve read only a fraction of his enormous fictional output.  What I have read I have greatly enjoyed, but it’s his thin book of essays, Zen in the Art of Writing, for which I am most grateful.  This book, to use Bradbury’s own metaphor for writing, was a landmine.  I stepped on it when I was writing the early drafts of The Girl with Glass Feet and it blasted apart a great many false notions I’d developed about writing.  About what it meant to write, what it was for, who it was for.  Yesterday I reread it and rediscovered its many vital lessons. A lot of books have been published with a claim on the cover that they’ll teach you how to write.  A lot of them won’t.  They’ll tangle you up with all the wrong concerns.  The vast majority of them will teach you the same old stuff about plot construction, tone, narrative voice, and so on and so on in tedious technical detail that will make you feel as if you’re building a robot, not a novel.  Don’t get me wrong, those things are important, but they’re not the starting point, they’re just aspects of final editing and technique.  Reading a hundred such books, even knowing them off by heart, will not help you develop the most fundamental part of your writing: your art. Bradbury treated writing, unashamedly, as art.  Not art in a cerebral, critic-at-the-gallery fashion but art as the first cave painters saw it: as the first artists, trembling fitfully before the first painted bison, which seemed to them to snort and and stamp along rock walls.  Art, to Bradbury, was just such a primal thing.  An expression of something fundamental to the artist’s self.  If that seems a high-falutin’ way to talk about things, please blame me not Bradbury.  This was a man who couldn’t abide high-falutin’ of any sort.  He loved Buck Rogers just as much as he loved Gerard Manley Hopkins and, it seems to me, would not let either the dogged sci-fi fan or the theorising poetry professor tell him that the two had no place … Read More

AliRay Bradbury

29th March – Abingdon Writers Present: An Evening with Ali Shaw

Ali

On Thursday 29th March I’m going to be appearing at the Abingdon Arts Festival, at an event presented by the Abingdon Writers group. It’s at 7.30 at Abingdon Libray, and tickets are £4.  All the info, as well as what’s on at the rest of the festival, can be found here – http://www.abingdonartsfestival.org.uk/lit.html Hope to see you there.

Ali29th March – Abingdon Writers Present: An Evening with Ali Shaw

Site Redesign

Ali

As you can no doubt tell if you visit here often, I’ve just given my website a lick of paint.  The only kind of web design I know is that of Doctor Frankenstein, and as such this site is more stitched together than coded.  I figure if I throw enough lightning at the thing it will eventually get up and walk, but I apologise if it leaves a mess of torn links, mauled images and hankerings for a bride in its wake.   More soon.  The new book is on the horizon…

AliSite Redesign