Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Memories of Ray Bradbury

While reading the introduction to Ray Bradbury's second collection of stories, I was struck by the fact that Bradbury seemed to have a detailed recollection of most of the stories he composed:  where he was at the time, what he was feeling, and some of the circumstances which compelled him to write that particular tale.

I'm afraid I can't relate.  Most of my memories--even recent ones--seem to fly away quickly now, and I can scarcely recall the events surrounding few things that I write.  In fact, I have more solid memories of writing in the distant past than I do in the most recent months, or even weeks.

I can recall, for instance, finishing the final draft of one novel sitting in the parsonage basement in Evansville (circa 1995?), sending the novel off to a literary agent in New York, and receiving an affirming phone call some weeks later.  I can also recall writing another novel (some 150 pages) in less than twenty-four hours--a novel I wrote as a kind of practice exercise more than anything else--just to see what was possible. I wrote this one holed up in a spare bedroom in the Noblesville parsonage (pre-children), and the year must have been 1989.

As for the stories and essays and the vast trove of shorter work that I have produced on hundreds of floppy disks over the past twenty years . . . I have only sketchy memory of some of them, and no memory at all for most.  I am now at a stage of life where my floppy searches yield some amazing discoveries, and in the past year I have actually placed and/or sold writing that I had produced years ago.  

I am always impressed with writers like Bradbury and Asimov and Vonnegut . . . writers who produced so much but whose memories held out and attached to the finest of details.  

I do like the idea of being able to remember.  But maybe that's why I write.  I've got to get the idea down before I forget it.        

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