Ray Bradbury spoke on Friday night about belief in oneself and to never lose faith. “When you make your first sale you need to celebrate, because it may be a year before you make another.”
He told how as a boy he opened an envelope on the lawn of his mother’s house and let out a yell when he read a letter telling him of his first sale. “My mother and I hugged each other and danced around the yard!” he said. For which he received a free subscription to the magazine.
He didn’t make another sale for more than a year.
Ray said that when his family moved to Los Angeles he was thirteen years old and he discovered the places in local museums where Hollywood memorabilia was housed. He searched out those places and wrote letters to cartoonists, pulp fiction writers, and the people who made magic in B movies, and he spent hours and days reading stories about everything, haunting the libraries.
He said he didn’t go to college. “I went to libraries, and I stayed there,” he said. “And when I was 27 years old I graduated from the library!”
He also spoke about his time in Ireland with movie director John Huston, who was filming his classic “Moby Dick.” As he told the story behind Green Shadows, White Whale, writer Bradbury painted a picture of his time in Ireland chasing Huston’s dream of an epic screenplay worthy of the concept in the director’s mind. Waving his arms and drawing out the pub owner and cab driver from the pages of his novel and memory he filled the auditorium with images of Irish fog, warm Guinness, and cold rain.
He got the gig, writing the screenplay for Moby Dick, when John Huston invited him to his hotel in Los Angeles and asked, “Well Ray, what are you doing for the next year?” When Ray answered, “nothing,” Huston continued, “Well, tell you what. Why don’t you go home tonight, read as much as you can of the book [Moby Dick], come back tomorrow and help me kill the white whale?”
Bradbury did go home and said to his wife, “Maggie, pray for me. I have to read a book tonight and give a book report in the morning.”