I trace my love of poetry to something that Ray Bradbury wrote. I was in the Marines when I took his advice and started reading a poem every day to keep the mental muscles limber. Since I knew I wanted to make writing a part of my life, I snapped up every bit of advice from Bradbury, who was one of my favorite authors.
Ray Bradbury died yesterday at 91. In his obituary, the New York Times mentioned the books that others will surely mention: The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451. They didn’t mention the book that is most important to me: Zen in the Art of Writing. Many of the things I first read in that book have become parts of the way I work.
The rest of the world will mourn the passing of a successful writer. I will mourn the passing of one of those mentors that you never meet in person, knowing that now such a meeting will never happen.
When he was a young boy, Bradbury went to a carnival where he was confronted by “Mr. Electro.” He touched young Bradbury on the nose with his electrified sword while chanting, “Live forever!”
And so he will. Not in the body. That left us yesterday. Ray Bradbury lives on in his works and in the people, like me, whom he influenced.