An Animated Ray Bradbury Explains Why It Takes Being a “Dedicated Madman” to Be a Writer

The good folks at Blank on Blank have been breath­ing new life into long-lost record­ed inter­views with cul­tur­al icons by turn­ing them into ani­mat­ed shorts. In the past, they have made films fea­tur­ing the likes of Janis JoplinDavid Fos­ter Wal­lace, Jim Mor­ri­son and Dave Brubeck. For their most recent release, they do Ray Brad­bury, the beloved sci-fi author and mono­rail enthu­si­ast. You can watch it above.

In 2012, Lisa Potts found a cas­sette tape wedged behind a dress­er. It con­tained an inter­view she did with Brad­bury back in 1972 when she was a stu­dent jour­nal­ist. Potts and fel­low stu­dent Chadd Coates talked to the author in the back of a car while they were mak­ing their way from Bradbury’s West L.A. home to Chap­man Col­lege in Orange Coun­ty where he was slat­ed to give a lec­ture.

In the inter­view, Brad­bury expounds on a wide range of top­ics – from the impor­tance of friends – “That’s what friends are, the peo­ple who share your crazy out­look and pro­tect you from the world” – to his fear of dri­ving – “The whole activ­i­ty is stu­pid.”

But the area where he seems to get the most pas­sion­ate is, not sur­pris­ing­ly, about the act of cre­at­ing. Accord­ing to Brad­bury, you don’t need a fan­cy, over­priced MFA to write. He nev­er went to col­lege after all. His school was his local pub­lic library. What you real­ly need to be a writer is an obses­sive love of writ­ing, friends who are will­ing to nour­ish your obses­sion and a will­ing­ness to be a lit­tle crazy.

I am a ded­i­cat­ed mad­man, and that becomes its own train­ing. If you can’t resist, if the type­writer is like can­dy to you, you train your­self for a life­time. Every sin­gle day of your life, some wild new thing to be done. You write to please your­self. You write for the joy of writ­ing. Then your pub­lic reads you and it begins to gath­er around your sell­ing a pota­to peel­er in an alley, you know. The enthu­si­asm, the joy itself draws me. So that means every day of my life I’ve writ­ten. When the joy stops, I’ll stop writ­ing.

For any­one sweat­ing blood in a cof­fee shop over a stub­born screen­play or nov­el, lines like that are balm for the soul. The whole inter­view has this same infec­tious joy of cre­at­ing. Brad­bury, by the way, wrote up until he died at the age of 91.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ray Brad­bury Gives 12 Pieces of Writ­ing Advice to Young Authors (2001)

A Day in the After­life: Revis­it­ing the Life & Times of Philip K. Dick

Ani­ma­tions Revive Lost Inter­views with David Fos­ter Wal­lace, Jim Mor­ri­son & Dave Brubeck

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of bad­gers and even more pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

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