Writing is being in love for the next 20,000 days.

Ray Bradbury, who knew what it was like to be a sublime fool in love with writing.
Ray Bradbury, who knew what it was like to be a sublime fool in love with writing.

I’m off today to speak at the Puerto Vallarta Writers Conference, something about delivering the keynote address. I’m honored, and I’m worried.

Looking back at me will be a room full of men and women of all ages.

But they have one thing in common.

They want to be writers.

What can I tell them?

The truth?

It may scare them away.

So I’ll steal a message from Ray Bradbury.

I only steal from the best.

He understood the agony and the ecstasy of it all.

A lot of us wanted to be writers once upon a time.

The smart ones, however, moved on to something else.

They got doctorates in something important and jobs that might change the world.

We just keep changing nouns and verbs and adjectives, although I don’t need to change adjectives nearly as often as I once did.

I don’t need many of them anymore.

So what does it take to be a writer?

Ray Bradbury had an idea or two.

Of course, Ray Bradbury should know.

He had written a book or two.

He said: If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.

You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.

You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.

I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.

I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.

May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise.

Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days.

And out of that love, remake a world.

So I guess we’ll let the smart ones change the world.

We’ll simply do our best to remake it.

Words do have that kind of power.

Words do have that ability.

It all depends on how we use them.

I guess I could have wound up with any tool in the world.

But I chose a typewriter, then a computer.

I was content with a keyboard.

I didn’t need anything with a lot of moving parts.

I settled for a bucket full of words so I could turn them loose and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside my head.

I never know which ones win.

But I use the ones that left standing when the fight finally ends.

That’s what sublime fools do.

And we do it a lot.

I write because I never know how the battle of words will turn out.



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