“Nothing is ever lost. If you have moved over vast territories and dared to love silly things, you will have learned even from the most primitive items collected and put aside in your life. From an ever-roaming curiosity in all the arts, from bad radio to good theatre, from nursery rhyme to symphony, from jungle compound to Kafka’s Castle, there is basic excellence to be winnowed out, truths found, kept, savored, and used on some later day. To be a child of one’s time is to do all these things.”
– Ray Bradbury
Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Inside You
To me, nothing could be farther from the truth than the quote above. Key word being ‘winnow’. We all travel through our lives in a variety of forms, roles and in different levels of openness. To bear in mind that we have the grace and the wisdom to be able to winnow the excellence within each experience and to be as open as a child to accept and them all, now that’s unlocking the creative genius within each. No matter the mode of exhibition.
I am still to read more of Ray Bradbury’s works, but had the opportunity to get a print version of “How to keep the muse and feed it” from our local library. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find an online version (if anyone does, please post) of this essay that’s part of the collection of the book “Zen in the art of Writing”. However, here’s a brief review of the book, that is charming on its own which does not of course reflect on the final appeal to individuals.
Ray Bradbury is revered by many and reading his single essay alone made me actually logon and buy a couple of his books online in the last hour. I am blessed with dear young friends who enlighten and educate me on the various gems (that am blissfully ignorant of) in literature, music and art among others. I heard of Bradbury in association with Arthur C Clarke who passed away recently. A piece that once again drew me closer to the kind of subtle yet effective writing (uncannily as I look at the date, one week short of a year ago) was this one. Nine Billion Names of God, by Arthur Clarke.
Continuing on to Bradbury’s idea on writing;
My stories run up and bite me in the leg — I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.
To put it bluntly, I feel that bite and rush at times when am in the middle of a kiss-n-ride, in the grocery aisle and occasionally in the shower. The urge to capture, harness and hold that within the confines of ink or a byte is incredibly strong. One never knows when that bite’s gonna get impatient with you and scamper away while you stand there with an empty net. Understandably, that’s pretty much the gist of how any writer would describe the idea, the urge, the immediate pang, the bite that starts off a thread in the mind. I imagine there are many of those unharnessed ones that are flowing and floating around all of us, and if I don’t catch that snippet, someone else will and it will become their baby.
But then again, answer me this. If this story was indeed burrowing through you from one the many experiences you’ve personally winnowed out, then it isn’t really lost now is it?
There’s another fascinating view on harnessing the creative genius, but am going to save that, as it warrants a whole new post. The lady just cannot be clubbed away.