Lisa Potts did an interview with Ray Bradbury in 1972 and she by chance found it again in 2012. Since then, it’s been animated though the wonderful “Blank on Blank“ , in part of their PBS series. Thanks so much to Maria Popova of Brainpickings.org – one of my favourite websites BTW – for introducing me to this wonderful series. Alongside writer Bradbury, Blank on Blank have animated interviews with Maya Angelou, musicians such as Lou Reed, John Lennon and actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heath Ledger among others. A real gem of a find.
Here is part of what Ray Bradbury says about writing:
“Don’t pay any attention to what anyone else says — no opinions! The important thing is to explode with the story, to emotionalize it, not to think it. If you start to think it, the story’s going to die on its feet. It’s like anything else… People who take books on sex to bed become frigid — you get self-conscious.
You can’t think a story — you can’t think, “I shall do a story to improve mankind.” It’s nonsense! All the great stories, all the really worthwhile plays, are emotional experiences. If you have to ask yourself whether you love a girl, or whether you love a boy, forget it — you don’t! A story is the same way — you either feel a story and need to write it, or you’d better not write it.
You write to please yourself. You write for the joy of writing. And then your public reads you and it begins to gather around…
The enthusiasm, the joy itself draws me — so that means, every day of my life, I’ve written. When the joy stops, I’ll stop writing.”
You Can’t Think a Story
This to me was the best thing I’ve heard on writing for a while. So what is the difference between thinking and feeling a story? To me, “thinking ” a story is working out the plot, developing a clever idea that would make a snappy little tale. “Feeling’ the story is either having a call to write about a particular thing you feel strongly about, or starting a story with an essence and let the words flow from that emotion.
Bradbury might not have meant this at all, but that’s how I look at the written word. It’s not that I don’t plot – of course I do at a certain level – especially with a novel. But with a short story, the mood of the piece needs to carry you forward to allow the story to unfold.
How do you like to write? Do you plot and plan? Do you pick a theme? Do you start with a freewrite,no clue as to how the story is going to unfold?
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