A few years ago, I had the great pleasure of listening to Ray Bradbury recount his early days as a writer. Many people don’t know but Ray Bradbury actually wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a typewriter in the basement of UCLA’s Powell library for the hefty price of ten cents per hour, if memory serves me correctly.
He joked that he had no idea the story would garner as much success as it did and thought he’d deserve at least a plaque noting that it was created there. I mean, JK Rowling has a plaque in the hotel room where she finished writing the Harry Potter series. I think we could muster one for Ray too, right UCLA?
Update: Danielle Solomon, UCLA librarian extraordinaire, just let me know there is a plaque that was added in 2009. Check out the picture of Ray Bradbury (white hair, bottom right hand side) checking it out here!
In any case, sitting in that packed auditorium, I felt like Bradbury was speaking right to me. And it’s not often that that feeling comes to me. I’m not the kind of person that thinks that each Oprah episode is meant for me. Although I do think that Lizzie McGuire was a TV show crafted exclusively for my tween viewing pleasure.
ANYWAY, I was unsure of what my path would be. It was nearing the end of my Junior year of college and I had no idea what I was going to pursue. I tinkered, and by that, I mean wrestled with the idea of non-profits, grad school, writing, cooking, moving, relationships, student loans, and nearly everything else under the sun. I felt like I had all of these directions I could go in but had no idea how to navigate it. And then Bradbury said something that I furiously proceeded to scribble down on my Festival of Books itinerary (yes, I made an itinerary.). And these words have forever stuck out in my mind. They continue to help me navigate these murky waters called life and growing up.
It’s not just about writing. Or work. It’s about trusting yourself enough to let go of everything else.
It reassures me and invites me to author my own life.
Ray Bradbury, thank you for those words that day and thank you for the words you have given us to read always.