Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ghostwriting and Ray Bradbury.

I am a huge, huge fan of Ray Bradbury. I go head over heels every single time I think back of the first sentence of Fahrenheit 451, "It is a pleasure to burn". I still wonder until today how one sentence can sound so beautifully crafted in my eyes, that just doesn't make sense, and yet I can't help it. Is it because it was written by Ray Bradbury? Is that it? Or it is because those words are so commonly used that we have forgotten its beauty once it is jotted down on paper? Nope, I still don't get it. All I know is that I was blown away by every word that Ray Bradbury jot down in that book.

I remembered there was this one time when I sat down and listened to his speech in this writing symposium, back when he was only around 80 years old, I think (I'm pretty sure). I was so moved by what he said because I could feel his love and his passion for his writing, which to me is just amazing. He has lived practically three-quarters of his life and he still believe in rediscovering, in going on adventure and he still believes in books. Whoa. I was like blown away by this burning pleasure in his eyes as he shared what he knew about the craft of words. And as he was telling about his love for words, he asked everyone in the audience what they were writing for. He asked what it was that kept you writing. Why did you even begin in the first place? And then he said more or less like this, "if it was money that you were after, you should leave this room right now". He said that you were done the minute you started writing for money.

At that moment, I didn't get what he was talking about. I knew to live from writing is a tough life, that you will hardly ever be able to eat from writing novels and that what Ray Bradbury just said was what other writers keep telling you about. But I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know until I was introduced to the world of ghostwriting.

Ghostwriting pays. And it pays you well. But without you realizing it, you become numb of what you write and that is what Ray Bradbury was talking about. The father of science fiction, for all I know, he told us that the secret to write well was to be so lost in it that you wouldn't even realize you're still alive. But when you ghostwrite, you become so lost, not in your burning love for this art, but because it's easy and you get money out of it. I don't know what Bradbury has to say about ghostwriting. I would love to have him do a speech on this, but unfortunately that's a bit too late, isn't it? And I just can't help to think of him calling all of us a disgrace for going into this "ghostly world". But then again, we'll never know.

So, is ghostwriting really a disgrace? A sin, perhaps? I don't know, I'm wondering about it too. I guess for now, call it what we want to call it. And you know what, after months (I think), I still find it sad that such a legend, a parent of so many writers in this world, has to leave our literary world in such a haste.

I love Ray Bradbury. I wish he was still alive.

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