Who Inspires You?
I discovered one of my favorite writers by chance many years ago. I stumbled upon a book of his in the local library using a method I employ to locate the best books on the shelves. If you are an avid reader and a library frequenter (like me) you may have already discovered this technique. The best books are the shabbiest most tattered books, the most read books; the ones worth reading!
I had heard of Ray Bradbury because of his book Fahrenheit 451. But because I thought science fiction was all he wrote, I might have left Dandelion Wine on the shelf no matter how well-read it appeared had I not remembered the poem. When I was a child I had found a poem in a magazine by Ray Bradbury called Remembrance and had cut it out and glued it into my scrapbook. I knew he wrote amazing poetry. I had to see if he wrote prose as well.
I had discovered a treasure. Dandelion Wine is filled with wondrous, beautifully-written stories about a young boy’s magical summer. Year after year I checked this book out and enjoyed the stories again until the year I looked for it on the shelf and in the catalogue and it was gone. I found a bookstore that would order it for me and purchased it. It remains one of my most valued books.
Recently I found another book by Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing, filled with essays in which he shares what inspired his stories. Ray Bradbury has an incredible gift of seeing magic in the ordinary things of life that most of us pass without noticing. Take this passage, for instance, where he tells of a walk along the beach with his wife one night in Venice, California:
“…we came upon the bones of the Venice Pier and the struts, tracks, and ties of the ancient roller-coaster collapsed on the sand and being eaten by the sea.”
“‘What’s that dinosaur doing lying here on the beach?’, I said.”
“My wife, very wisely, had no answer.”
“The answer came the next night when, summoned from sleep by a voice calling, I rose up, listened, and heard the lonely voice of the Santa Monica bay fog horn blowing over and over and over again.”
“Of course! I thought. The dinosaur heard that lighthouse fog horn blowing, thought it was another dinosaur arisen from the deep past, came swimming in for a loving confrontation, discovered it was only a fog horn, and died of a broken heart there on the shore.”
Spending time lost in a Ray Bradbury book makes me look at my world differently. Stories, novels, blog posts are hidden in plain sight! He helps me to see them.
What writer inspires you? Where in life do you meet the muse who lifts you from the ordinary into the extraordinary realm of the possible? How do you find inspiration?
photo credit: Leo-setä