With the recent death of Ray Bradbury, I learned a few things about him which I never knew before. One was that he never learned how to drive a car. The other was that he made a point of writing 1,000 words every day.
My daughter does not yet have a driver’s license, and does not seem at all interested in learning how to drive. She is twenty years old now, and the only time the subject comes up is when she needs a government-issued photo ID. She is used to living on a college campus where everything is within walking distance, and when she comes back home she always has someone to drive her where she needs to be. Either her friends do not nag her about it, or peer pressure has no effect, but she shows no sign of feeling inadequate about her lack of driving ability. She will learn when she needs to learn, and she will not be ashamed of having no need to learn yet. The lack of a driver’s license is more of an inconvenience for her at times when she doesn’t carry her passport as proof of identification. This is also not a reason for her to learn how to drive, but rather a motivation to apply for a government-issued ID card. As someone who pays enough in automotive insurance premiums as it is, I am all in favor of that solution.
I myself try to walk rather than drive to many locations in our neighborhood. I like to think it is to save on gas or to make a statement just on principle, but really I just need the exercise. Today’s walk took me to the library. I was there to fetch some books for someone else, but in doing so I came across “The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury. I know I read this one several times before, back when I was a kid, back before the Internet took up so much of my reading (and writing) hours. I might very well own this book, no longer sitting visible on my few bookshelves, a paperback stored in a box somewhere. It is easier to pick up a copy from the library and carry it in my purse for three weeks, to have it handy to read in short bursts but not worry about keeping the cover in perfect condition.
Wikipedia tells me that Ray Bradbury wrote 27 novels, but I remember him more for his short stories. I can picture myself reading them in school, after school, over the summer, sitting in a tree, and on camping trips. I never thought about the writer himself or what kind of work it was to publish stories. My father was of the opinion that writers and artists were only hobbyists, and that real work involved going into an office and sitting at a desk. The more I read now about writers, the more I see just how much work they really to put into their craft.
I wonder what my father would have thought about the discipline that writers require of themselves. I wonder if I am ready to turn my writing from a hobby into a discipline.