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Book Review - Zen in the Art of Writing

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Ray Bradbury was first and foremost a poet. At least, that's my conclusion based on this book. In this book, he writes beautiful words, and he doesn't flinch from the truth. Which is the basic definition of a poet, right?

There are some excellent quotes in this book. I already listed my favourites. Bradbury dispenses advice and talks about the process of writing. He talks about inspiration and where it comes from. He talks about the process he went through with some of his books.

I particularly liked two things he talks about. First is the process of writing, which he describes as letting stuff out of your subconscious. The idea is that your subconscious is being "fed" all the time by stuff you read, see, watch, and experience. When you sit down to write, all you have to do is let the story out of your subconscious. This quote sums it up perfectly: "We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." I relate to this description because this is precisely how writing happens to me. Something will click, and then there's the story all ready to be told.

The second thing I loved is his uncompromising adherence to telling the truth. "What we are trying to do is find a way to release the truth that lies in all of us." By "we" he means, "us writers". In the book's titular essay he rails against two forms of lying: writing with the intention to be rewarded by money, and writing to be rewarded by fame. In short, he argues that the point of writing, like all art, is to tell truths even they are inconvenient.

In summary, I do think it's an excellent book for anyone who is on the path to becoming a writer or an author.


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