Getting Inspired by… Ray Bradbury

i sing the body electric by ray bradburyFinding something that inspires you to write can be easy or difficult. It can come screaming out of left field like a foul ball, or worse, hit you at the most awkward of times like driving the car. My inspiration tends to pick awful times to invade my brain. It’s usually in the middle of the night. Yes, I’m sure you’re nodding in agreement. We’ve all lost a lot of sleep in this profession.

I admit, I don’t read enough. And I know I should. Shame on me! I’ve always been afraid that if I read, that somehow I’d subconsciously copy the author. Maybe not exactly, but paraphrase someone out there. This is probably a silly fear. Writers are supposed to be inspired by the works of others. But my fear has persisted, and I knew I needed to conquer it.

One night, an idea hit me. I wanted to write a young adult story about a robot and some kids.

By morning, I’d come up with a title and a good idea of what path to take. I excitedly posted on Facebook my very rough synopsis. A few hours later, I went back to the post only to discover that a couple friends of mine had mentioned there was a similar story: I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury. And I found out that he’d gotten the title from a Walt Whitman poem.

Nuts! My book had already been written. Or had it?

Internet research led me to discover Mr. Bradbury had written a short story about a family that loses their mother. At wit’s end, the father decides to investigate a company that makes electronic robotic grandmothers. There was even an episode of the Twilight Zone that Mr. Bradbury wrote the script for (S3: E35, 18 May 1962). I watched it to see what it was all about. As a teen, I’d read Fahrenheit 451 and enjoyed it. So I was familiar with at least one other Bradbury work.

Happily I discovered that while my story was similar, it was indeed different. I bought the book used on Amazon and have read the story several times while working on mine. And then I came up with a neat idea: to attempt writing in a style loosely based on Mr. Bradbury’s. There was something about his style that intrigued me. On occasions he minced words like garlic, created sentences that barely made sense, and threw in adjectives that seemed out of place. But it was fascinating reading. I liked it.

“…calling us to frolic in great fountains of Latin and Spanish and French, in great seaborne gouts of poetry like Moby Dick sprinkling the deeps with his Versailles jet somehow lost in calms and found in storms; Grandma, a constant, a clock, a pendulum, a face to tell all time by at noon…”

While I can’t say that I’m following his style exactly, I am giving it my best shot:

“Outside I heard the wind. It sounded like the roar of a jet engine. Things were hitting the side of the house; debris of some sort. Was this a tornado? I slouched deeper into the cushy sofa, feeling the nap of the red velvet. Looking over at Rory and Suz, it appeared they were trying to do the same. Grandma and Grandpa seemed oblivious to what was going on above. I had a feeling that if there was a basement below this basement that all three of us would be down there — spiders or not.”

Currently I’m still tweaking the style to more closely match his. I guess it’s my polite nod to someone who did so much for the art of writing. Mr. Bradbury is inspiring me to venture into a new genus of creativity. And for that, I thank him. Installments of my story are up on Wattpad.

Is there an author, or someone out there, who inspired you? Was it something they said, did, or wrote that gave you a spark of creativity? Did you act on it? What was your outcome? Let’s hear it!

Author: Kathy Rowe (K. Rowe)

K. Rowe is an experienced and prolific multi-genre author. She draws from over twenty years of active Air Force service. Kathy lives in eastern Kentucky with her husband and a zoo of farm animals. Among her many duties she finds time to offer services as a publishing consultant for new authors. Learn more about Kathy from Facebook, and her Amazon author page.

11 thoughts on “Getting Inspired by… Ray Bradbury”

  1. Great post and a reminder that reading is so important in our lives as well as classic shows and movies too. They all offer us enrichment. I love Ray Bradbury, the way his words were musical on the page. RIP It’s time to pull out his classic Halloween tale for a re-read.

    1. I’m definitely finding that I’m not as musical as he was. But it’s all a learning and growing experience.

  2. I honestly can’t say that I emulate anyone’s style but there are certainly authors whose work I admire, who have inspired me and whom I wistfully wish I could match for quality. Robin Hobb would be one.

    My hubby is a great admirer of Bradbury and wrote to him once. He got back a personally written signed note of thanks. He treasures that piece of paper. 🙂

  3. I think we can all identify with this, Kathy. Great writing just inspires great writing, period. My favorite inspiration is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I re-read it at least once a year (for the past 25 years or so), and every time I do, I am torn between continuing to read and running to the computer to write. I could never match his style–it’s more spiral than linear–but the way he describes things, the way he carries the story in such a transparent, effortless way just knocks me out. I think I read every Bradbury story when I was a teen, but he’s a classic and any re-reading could only bring a new dimension to it. Thanks for reminding me.

    1. Fab article! Loved it!
      Two of my other inspirations are Stephen Coonts and Dale Brown- they spurred me on to write military thrillers (my first books). Oddly enough, I’m not much of a Clancy fan.

  4. The night I began reading the Martian Chronicles I cried. I am not a science fiction fan per se, but the brilliance of it shocked me. I admire your exercise/homage. It is a compliment to Mr. Bradbury that you tried this experiment. I like it – it reads well. 🙂

    1. Thanks! And I’m working hard just about every day to improve on what I started with. Have re-read “I Sing the Body Electric” a few times again, along with a few others in that book.

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