Writer Ray Bradbury has embraced all his crazy loves and never let go.
Bradbury, author of short stories, screenplays and novels, was recently in Utah to speak at Weber State College and for other meetings. He describes himself as an enthusiast who fell in love with a lot of different things at an early age.Motion pictures became his first love, at age 3, when he went with his mother to see the great films of the 1920s. Actor Lon Chaney was a favorite.
At 9 Bradbury fell in love with the future because of the Buck Rogers comic strips. Daily, he waited impatiently for the newspaper so he could clip and collect the strips. His friends taunted him, so after two months he tore up the strips. Three weeks later, he broke into tears.
He asked himself why he cried. Who had died? "The answer was me. Why? Because I had torn up the future. I allowed my friends to make fun of me and the thing I wanted with all of my heart."
It was a lesson in learning to trust his own taste, Bradbury said, and he then decided he wasn't going to listen to others again. He would go the way he wanted and do the things he wanted. "I made my life full because I never listened to one idiot after that," Bradbury said, adding, "That's my message to you.
"Find the things you really love and stick with it, no matter what the doubts or criticisms are."
An avid reader, Bradbury spent hours during his youth reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan," and stories about Mars and dinosaurs. He read the Bible and Shakespeare daily, as he continues to do.
When he was 12, he began to write, and he continues to do so daily. Evaluating his teenage writings, Bradbury said they were dreadful. But, he didn't care because he loved writing.
Also as a teen, Bradbury met a young man who built dinosaurs in his garage. Not only did this friend build them, but he made them move.
In a Venice, Calif., garage, Bradbury made a pledge with that friend to write screenplays for the animated dinosaurs. "Then everyone would love us and we'd be famous. And, that's how it worked out," Bradbury said.
The friend was Ray Harryhausen, who later became most famous for his special effects and amazing creatures in such films as "Mighty Joe Young," "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms," "Clash of the Titans" and "Jason and the Argonauts."
Harryhausen and Bradbury dared to love the things that no one else cared about. Bradbury said the lesson from the friendship was, "Stay in love with the craziest, nuttiest, most insane thing that you've ever loved, and never let go and you'll have a good life."
Bradbury's love for dinosaurs, the Bible and Shakespeare changed his life by influencing him to write "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms." The idea came when Bradbury and his wife took a walk along the pier in Venice. On the sand lay the skeleton of a great roller coaster. He said to his wife, "I wonder what that dinosaur is lying dead on the beach for?
"She was very careful not to answer me," Bradbury laughed. But, he remembered how the roller coaster reminded him of the spinal cord and skeleton of a dinosaur.
Three nights later, something woke him. Over and over again, he heard the persistent fog horn sounding its warning in the fog-shrouded Santa Monica Bay. An idea came. "Yes. That's it. The dinosaur heard the fog horn blowing, thought it was another dinosaur risen from a billion years of sleeping and grieving."
He wrote the story the next morning. "The Saturday Evening Post" printed the story, and director John Huston read it.
Huston invited Bradbury to write the screenplay for "Moby Dick." Bradbury confessed that he'd never been able to finish the book.
"Tell you what, kid. Why don't you go home tonight, read as much as you can, come back at lunch tomorrow, and tell me whether or not you'll help me kill the white whale," Huston said.
Bradbury told his wife when he went home that night, "Pray for me. I have to read a book and do a book report on it for tomorrow."
The job was his, and he and his wife moved to Ireland for seven months for the filming.
Another love, science fiction, is the most important literature of the future because it is dreaming of things to come and how to solve them, Bradbury said. "We are always thinking of the future, all day long. My advice to you is to dream yourself into becoming."
He described himself as "rich." "I'm the luckiest man in the world because I write every day and that's why I'm rich."
Never do anything because you are tempted; do it because you love it, and the success will follow, he said.