I remember writer Ray Bradbury’s past television series, The Ray Bradbury Theater, in which, at the beginning of each episode, Mr. Bradbury ascends to his studio in a rickety elevator, unlocks a door, and steps into his mysterious writing chamber. The room is filled with curiosities of all sorts; knickknack items crowd every square inch of shelf space and windowsills. While the TV show’s credit music dies down, Mr. Bradbury peers around the room through his thick glasses while he tells us he’s waiting for inspiration. That broken clock over there or that odd piece of jigsaw puzzle here; or perhaps the cracked African voodoo mask in the corner sitting next to a mirror in whose reflection dangles a Cupie Doll hanging from the ceiling. He feels a story in that one, he tells us. A story waiting to be written if he but listens.
Well, I’m listening right now, searching for a thread of inspiration or direction, but all I hear is my computer’s cooling fan and a strange thumping outside my window. I get up from my chair and press my face against the glass. A shadow brushes the window pane one-eighth of an inch from my eyes. A dark hand thrusts through the dirty glass, grabs me, pulls me through the tiny window without my body even breaking it. Cold air fills up my lungs and – – shivering in an unexplainable chill and surrounded by a musky odor like damp wolf hair – – I am whisked effortlessly up into a treetop. From there I see a light shining from my bedroom-office window. Is that me looking through it?
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Ray Bradbury passed away in 2012. He was not only one of my favorite writers but an inspirational figure to thousands of young writers everywhere. I am grateful he left behind such a rich legacy for us to enjoy for centuries to come.