My uncle just died. And no, I am not a blood relation of Ray Bradbury’s (but think on that for a moment, how indescribably awesome that would be); people who have had a profound effect on me, especially in a literary sense–I consider them my uncles. I’ve never delved into where this notion came from–perhaps because in an indeal world, it’s your uncle who gives you the advice that isn’t necessarily one hundred percent safe. They care about you–but at the end of the day, you’re not their kid. And they can’t have adventures anymore, so why not tell you how to go have some?
That’s an ideal uncle. Which made Uncle Ray even more impressive…because he never stopped adventuring. And while I had always wanted to write, it was the unsafe advice of Uncle Ray that actually got me off my ass–or on my ass, rather–and typing.
Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.
Every day since then, I’ve been trying to blow myself up. With mixed results.
So yes. The man wrote some amazing stuff. Yes, Fahrenheit 451. Yes, Something Wicked. Yes, “The Veldt.” And scads of others. But for me–if I’m on Desert Island Discs and they ask me for my book–it’s Zen in the Art of Writing. Because it’s the book that creates other books. And without it, I would be a writer…but I don’t know that I would be any good at it. Uncle Ray laid it out for me in plain English. And I wish I could say it was like he flicked a switch and everything immediately became clear–but that’s not accurate. Instead, I’ll say that–so I wouldn’t get blinded by the sudden brightness–he turned up a rheostat slowly.
And that’s the reason why the first volume of Something Else is dedicated to him. Because, quite frankly, none of my existing short fiction would exist without him. I owe him a great deal.
So I tell you this: my uncle just died. And I don’t believe in life after death–but my Uncle Ray is still adventuring. And I will fight anyone who says otherwise.
In closing, this:
And also, importantly, this:
Very touching eulogy, and I thank you for introducing me to that Sunsweet ad. My life is so much richer for having seen it.