Category: Art

Ray Bradbury’s Writing Advice For Writers To Be

In one of his lectures collected in the slim volume titled “Ray Bradbury: On Writing,” Bradbury talks about young people dreaming of writing a novel. His advice? Start small. Don’t start with a novel, which will take a long time to write, only to find out at the end it wasn’t good enough.

On Writing

Practice your skills, learn how to write by writing short stories. Write one short story a week. You’ll have the satisfaction of completing something in a relatively short period of time, and you’ll learn a lot. You’ll learn to compact things; to look for ideas; to see a metaphor, and how to write it. At the end of the year, there should be at least one good story. And you’re learning the craft.

Write What You Want to Read

Write what you want to read. Write about what you love, what you hate; write about what you fear; write with joy and abandon. Writing should be fun, not a chore.

Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun at it. (…) I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy my joy.

Close up of book shelves, two of them dedicated to writing. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

On Reading

As a writer, you should write a lot, and read a lot, too. The library is your school of writing, as it was his. Ray Bradbury never went to college; he couldn’t afford it. But he went to the library several times a week and, in his words, “graduated from the library”.

I want you to live the fever pitch. I want you to go to the library. The great thing about libraries is surprise, isn’t it? To pull books off the shelf and not know what they are (…).

What Should You Read?

Read and learn from the best. Every night, before going to bed, read one short story, one poem, one essay from various fields. Do this for a thousand nights, and you’ll have a solid education.

Ray Bradbury’s Recommended Reading

Short Stories

Short Stories

  • Roald Dahl
  • Guy De Maupassant
  • John Cheever
  • Richard Matheson
  • John Collier
  • Edith Wharton
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Eudora Welty
  • Washington Irving
  • Melville
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne

Essays

Poems

  • Aldous Huxley
  • Loren Eiseley
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • G. K. Chesterton

Go back and read the classics.

  • Shakespeare
  • Alexander Pope
  • Robert Frost

My Reading Education

I grew up in a home where there weren’t many books, but the ones we had were all classics. There was a book series collecting the classic works of both Romanian and foreign authors of all time. That was a gold mine for a child with an inquisitive mind, thirsting for knowledge, curious about everything. My parents didn’t forbid me to read any books; thankfully, they didn’t practice age-appropriate reading.

So I grew up reading Jules Verne, Daniel Defoe, and Mark Twain’s children’s books. In fact, my sister read them to me before I could read them myself. You could say I was primed for reading (thank you, sis!).

But I also read Balzac, Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, W. M. Thackeray, Emily Brontë, and Charlotte Brontë. I probably read Anna Karenina, Vanity Fair, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre a dozen times before I went to university.

Book Cover of Anton Chekhov Stories. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
My edition of Chekhov’s Stories.

At the university, we were required to read the classics. I was one of the few students who actually read the whole list.

They’re classic for a reason: they’re well written and show us the universal in people, humanity, our world. They endured hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Which best-sellers of today would still be best-sellers in fifty years?

Long story short, reading classic works is a good, free education. I would add Anton Chekhov, Sake, and Katherine Mansfield to Bradbury’s list of short stories.


I leave you with the best quote from this lecture (The Hygiene of Writing).

Don’t live on your god damned computers and the internet and all that crap. Go to the library.


To read more writing advice posts, click here.



Lightning

  1. The Rising Moon
  2. Tonight’s Moon
  3. Cicadas’ Voices
  4. At Yamei’s House
  5. The Bleak Wind
  6. Beads Of Dew
  7. Moon-Viewing At My Hut
  8. Fallen Leaves
  9. An Old Tree Was Felled …
  10. The Autumn Tempest
  11. Autumn Is Advanced
  12. To Ransetsu
  13. In Imitation of Kaku’s Haiku on Knotgrass and a Firefly
  14. On the Death of Issho
  15. Ice and Water
  16. The Lark
  17. The First Snow
  18. The Moon Of Tonight
  19. The Chanting of Buddhist Prayers
  20. Lightning
A view of Mount Fuji from the fifth station, photo by Mihaela Limberea.
Mount Fuji (view from the fifth station)

How noble he who realizes not,

From lightning-flashes, life is wain!

Matsuo Basho

Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694) was the most famous Edo period poet and a haiku master.


To read more poems, click here.



The Chanting of Buddhist Prayers

  1. The Rising Moon
  2. Tonight’s Moon
  3. Cicadas’ Voices
  4. At Yamei’s House
  5. The Bleak Wind
  6. Beads Of Dew
  7. Moon-Viewing At My Hut
  8. Fallen Leaves
  9. An Old Tree Was Felled …
  10. The Autumn Tempest
  11. Autumn Is Advanced
  12. To Ransetsu
  13. In Imitation of Kaku’s Haiku on Knotgrass and a Firefly
  14. On the Death of Issho
  15. Ice and Water
  16. The Lark
  17. The First Snow
  18. The Moon Of Tonight
  19. The Chanting of Buddhist Prayers
  20. Lightning
Close up of a cairn with Gornergrat glacier surrounded by mountains in the background, Switzerland. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

The chanting of the prayers fills

The field and mountain with cool air.

Mukai Kyorai 

Mukai Kyorai (1651 – 1704) was a Japanese poet of the early Tokugawa period (1603–1867) and one of the first disciples of the haiku master Matsuo Bashō.


To read more poems, click here.



Acquainted With The Night

Sunset colors, photo by Mihaela Limberea.

I have been one acquainted with the night.

I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.

I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.

I have passed by the watchman on his beat

And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet

When far away an interrupted cry

Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;

And further still at an unearthly height,

One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 

I have been one acquainted with the night.

Robert Frost

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963), American poet and winner of four Pulitzer Prizes, is most known for The Road Not Taken (a poem often read the graduation ceremonies), Fire and IceMending Wall, Nothing Gold Can Stay, and Home Burial.


To read more poems by Robert Frost, click here.



The Moon Of Tonight

  1. The Rising Moon
  2. Tonight’s Moon
  3. Cicadas’ Voices
  4. At Yamei’s House
  5. The Bleak Wind
  6. Beads Of Dew
  7. Moon-Viewing At My Hut
  8. Fallen Leaves
  9. An Old Tree Was Felled …
  10. The Autumn Tempest
  11. Autumn Is Advanced
  12. To Ransetsu
  13. In Imitation of Kaku’s Haiku on Knotgrass and a Firefly
  14. On the Death of Issho
  15. Ice and Water
  16. The Lark
  17. The First Snow
  18. The Moon Of Tonight
  19. The Chanting of Buddhist Prayers
  20. Lightning
Black and white photo of the moon by Mihaela Limberea

The moon of this night makes

All fields and mountains bald.

Hattori Ransetsu

Hattori Ransetsu (1654 – 1707) was a samurai, a haiku poet, and a follower of Matsuo Basho. He was very dedicated to Basho, and after the master’s death, he took the tonsure and became a monk.


To read more poems, click here.



The First Snow

  1. The Rising Moon
  2. Tonight’s Moon
  3. Cicadas’ Voices
  4. At Yamei’s House
  5. The Bleak Wind
  6. Beads Of Dew
  7. Moon-Viewing At My Hut
  8. Fallen Leaves
  9. An Old Tree Was Felled …
  10. The Autumn Tempest
  11. Autumn Is Advanced
  12. To Ransetsu
  13. In Imitation of Kaku’s Haiku on Knotgrass and a Firefly
  14. On the Death of Issho
  15. Ice and Water
  16. The Lark
  17. The First Snow
  18. The Moon Of Tonight
  19. The Chanting of Buddhist Prayers
  20. Lightning
A tree branch covered in snow. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

’Tis the first snow! Who is likely

To stay indoors?

Takarai Kikaku

Takarai Kikaku (1661 – 1707) was a Japanese poet and among the most accomplished disciples of Matsuo Bashō.


To read more poems, click here.



The Lark

  1. The Rising Moon
  2. Tonight’s Moon
  3. Cicadas’ Voices
  4. At Yamei’s House
  5. The Bleak Wind
  6. Beads Of Dew
  7. Moon-Viewing At My Hut
  8. Fallen Leaves
  9. An Old Tree Was Felled …
  10. The Autumn Tempest
  11. Autumn Is Advanced
  12. To Ransetsu
  13. In Imitation of Kaku’s Haiku on Knotgrass and a Firefly
  14. On the Death of Issho
  15. Ice and Water
  16. The Lark
  17. The First Snow
  18. The Moon Of Tonight
  19. The Chanting of Buddhist Prayers
  20. Lightning
A pine tree branch covered in snow. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

We took rest on a mountain pass

Even above the soaring lark.

by Matsuo Basho

Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694) was the most famous Edo period poet and a haiku master.


To read more poems, click here.



iPhotography II

Creativity Thrives on Constraints

Dreamy photo of a desolated jetty. iPhone photo by Mihaela Limberea.
The jetty at our nearby beach, a misty November day.

This post is about creativity, constraints and making do with what you have.

I had forgotten how dark it gets in this country after years of living in Switzerland. Last year doesn’t really count as re-acclimatization to Scandinavian darkness as we moved in at the end of October, had plenty of things to manage because of the move, and then went to Australia mid-December.

Darkness is so oppressive now; it feels like we’re living in a perpetual twilight zone. Even at noon, there’s not enough light to take decent photos. Outside, that is.

Dark mood photo of a man at the ned of a jetty. iPhone photo by Mihaela Limberea.
My husband agreed to model for this one. It doesn’t happen often.

I use to go for a walk at noon, to get some fresh air and daylight. Especially daylight. I always preach creativity thrives on constraints, and so I’m forcing myself to find something to photograph during my walks. Sometimes I bring my Canon 5D if there’s enough light to give it a try; otherwise, I always have my iPhone.

On some overcast days, this really becomes an exercise in creativity as the whole world seems to be blanketed in 50 shades of gray (pun intended).

The salvation then is in post-processing. I like to keep things simple. The photos above were taken with an iPhone and processed quickly with Snapseed. That’s it; it took me only a couple of minutes. No masterworks, I’m the first to admit. But much better looking than the original photos.

And since creativity thrives on constraints, I’m considering doing a 365 project, when you take and post one photo a day, every day, for a whole year. January 1st is around the corner, a good date to start a 365 project, don’t you think? It should be fun.


If you liked this post, share it on your preferred social network or forward it to a friend.

To read more posts on photography, click here.



Ice and Water

  1. The Rising Moon
  2. Tonight’s Moon
  3. Cicadas’ Voices
  4. At Yamei’s House
  5. The Bleak Wind
  6. Beads Of Dew
  7. Moon-Viewing At My Hut
  8. Fallen Leaves
  9. An Old Tree Was Felled …
  10. The Autumn Tempest
  11. Autumn Is Advanced
  12. To Ransetsu
  13. In Imitation of Kaku’s Haiku on Knotgrass and a Firefly
  14. On the Death of Issho
  15. Ice and Water
  16. The Lark
  17. The First Snow
  18. The Moon Of Tonight
  19. The Chanting of Buddhist Prayers
  20. Lightning
Close up of ice. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

Lo, ice and water joyfully

Are reconciled to one another.

Matsunaga Teitoku

Matsunaga Teitoku (1571 – 1654) was a Japanese poet who founded the Teitoku (or Teimon) school of haiku poetry. 


To read more poems, click here.



Just Squander Yourself

Waves crashing on the beach. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Waves crashing on the beach, Fregate Island, Seychelles.

The task is always to write every single piece like it’s your only one. It has to have that energy. Use your best material now. Just squander yourself. Enjoy it. I don’t want to read anyone’s tepid writing.

Parul Sehgal 

The quote comes from this excellent interview with Parul Sehgal, book critic at The New York Times, and former editor and columnist at The New York Times Book Review.

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard, along the same lines.