Posts Tagged ‘beginner writer’

Ray Bradbury and me, many years ago

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Many years ago in a different land when I was a different person than the one I am today, I encountered, very briefly,Ray Bradbury. The real deal sci-fi author who got mainstream respect.

At that time, I worked in commercial television as a television operations engineer. At home alone, my free time was spent writing, scribbling, white paper and pen battling. Getting my imagination to imagine. I was writing because I had to and to do so meant perhaps I could be a full-time writer. One day, someday, that big hope day.

And then one evening Ray Bradbury, whose work was being made into movies during those years, showed up for a broadcast interview. I was working at KCOP-TV, Hollywood, California. I had been assigned to the show where the interview would happen to work the boom (microphone controlled on a long cable that would dangle over his head out of camera shot).

Before the show, in the main hallway outside the studio door, there were lined up several soft drink machines. I was hanging around this area, waiting for the call for the start of the show when Ray Bradbury came sliding out of the studio, his eyes immediately focused on the soft drinks machines, his right hand already digging in his pant’s pocket, seeking coins.

I felt hesitation and thrill. Budding writer who wanted and needed to know from established, haloed writer in the flesh, an answer, The Answer.

Bradbury held a coin before the slot of the machine while his eyes took the measure of its contents. Standard soft drinks in bottles, not cans, nesting, waiting in a row. He seemed in a rush yet willing to spend some time on this significant decision. I shuffled, shy and hopeful, to the machine, to his side. I stood there. I looked at him, then the machine, then him. His eyes huge behind very thick eyeglasses never strayed from the machine’s offerings.

“Mr. Bradbury?” He did not look over. “I want to say I admire your work.”
Now he looked over. “Thank you.” He returned to his decision-making process, slightly bent over, his head like an outdoor elevator going up and down, checking the various floors of the soft drinks rack inside the machine.
“May I ask you a question?”

He let his coin fall and moved his fingers to the buttons where he would punch in the code for his soft drink decision.

“What does it take to be a writer?” Feeling this was one of the most bold questions ever poised during the history of mankind, I held my breath in anticipation of the reply.

He did not look at me as he pressed the code and replied, “Some’s got it, some’s don’t.”

His chosen bottle rattled down the shoot and smacked hard against the bottom drawer. He pressed up the plastic flap, reached in, got his bottle, used the cap opener lodged in the machine, turned and walked off.

I don’t remember the TV show or his remarks during the interview I was running boom on. I do remember “Some’s got it, some’s don’t.”

And all these decades later on the other side of my writing life I know this about Ray. He was right.