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Zen in the Art of Writing

Narrated by: Jim Frangione
Length: 3 hrs and 54 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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Summary

"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a land mine. The land mine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces back together. Now, it's your turn. Jump!"

Zest. Gusto. Curiosity. These are the qualities every writer must have, as well as a spirit of adventure. In this exuberant book, the incomparable Ray Bradbury shares the wisdom, experience, and excitement of a lifetime of writing. Here are practical tips on the art of writing from a master of the craft - everything from finding original ideas to developing your own voice and style - as well as the inside story of Bradbury's own remarkable career as a prolific author of novels, stories, poems, films, and plays.

Zen in the Art of Writing is more than just a how-to manual for the would-be writer: it is a celebration of the act of writing itself that will delight, impassion, and inspire the writer in you. In it, Bradbury encourages us to follow the unique path of our instincts and enthusiasms to the place where our inner genius dwells, and he shows that success as a writer depends on how well you know one subject: your own life.

©1994 Ray Bradbury Enterprises (P)2018 Recorded Books
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    3 out of 5 stars

Exuberant, excitable, of its time

I love some of Ray Bradbury's output. His grandiloquence - that's his kind of word - can get wearing though, and these essays are overflowing with it. And the real not faux naivete that fuels the excitable flow of words: his writing on how to write is full of the kind of gosh, darn, golly, mouth wide open awe that you'd expect from a kid growing up in small town America decades ago. The naivete and optimism of the mid 20th century mid West are everywhere. Grandparents are all kind, all wisdom, compared in the cringiest passages to Aristotle with Ray and the other kids at their feet on the lawns, soaking up their age old wisdom and philosophy and goodness. Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of the most arresting titles of any piece of writing. But the backwards Yoda speak is not just occasional, it is everywhere in Bradbury's writing. And watching The Upstart Crow in which a comic Shakespeare defends dramatising a sentence by 'putting all the words in the wrong order' because 'that's what I do' is a reminder that a style of writing suited to Astounding Stories and often coming across as written by an excitable boy for excitable boys can be endearing in small doses now. But it feels very dated, lacking in irony and sometimes hypey in its attempts to evoke wonder and portent and fear today. Ray was, from his writings here, a scared, sensitive child who once listed all the things that scared him - the attic, skeletons, the carnival, the thing on the stairs, the old man, the old woman, the storm etc - and decided to write about each one to set loose the fear and excitement attached to it. Write a thousand words a day for fifty years and some of it will be breathtakingly good but a lot of it won't is what he himself says. About ten percent, he says, is the good stuff. From quantity comes quality, he writes. Which applies to this book of essays, too. Some of the overlong, hyperbolic writing (in case the first metaphor in a list doesn't wow you, there are plenty more queuing up to do the same job until one does or you give in under the unrelenting barrage of words, shouting 'I get it, Ray, I got it with the first one, please move on') is partly entertaining in the way a garrulous uncle you're fond of but find annoying after a while keeps telling you the same old stories at length and insists this is deep timeless wisdom you need to pay attention to. Good insights for writers hiding in the verbiage - your subconscious is your muse, for example - but elaborately surrounded and dressed up, as you'd expect if you've read any Bradbury. Most moving anecdote - told several different times in the different essays collected into this book - is how as a small child he played on a lake beach with a little girl and then she was gone and he was playing alone. He was so young it wasn't till years later he found out she'd gone into the lake and drowned. Years after that he wrote 'The Lake ' purely so he could rescue her, bring her back out of the water, because he couldn't bear her having been left there for decades, 'though I didn't realise that until I finished it - hadn't even known how deeply she'd affected me - and couldn't stop sobbing as I typed the last word, but felt I'd released her and, after ten years of bad writing, had finally written something true.' (That's a paraphrase). Gotta love him for that.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-03-18

Evocative fuel for any Muse!

This book has been a deeply cherished favorite of mine since adolescence. I've hoped to find it on Audible for years. It's finally here.

Mr. Frangione's narration brings Bradbury's dynamically vital text to life. What a relief to find a voice so perfectly suited to such spiritually demanding material!

As I listened, I worked on Surrealistic drawings, refreshed and reminded of wisdom that had been instilled by Bradbury decades ago.

These are lessons for life, immediately applicable to any life lived in mindfulness and flow.

Reaching the end, I shed my first tears of joy in recent memory.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Angelica Smith Bill
  • 10-10-19

Passionate Writing Inspiration

Very inspiring! Keep in mind that this is a collection of essays on writing. Bradbury gives so much inspiration and you feel his passion of the craft. It truly makes you want to grab a notebook and start jotting down your own titles for story inspiration to bloom from.

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  • Susan Joslyn
  • 07-12-18

Good advice - re-readable.

Glad I bought this one, I'll be listening to it again. Bradbury had immense innate talent, but he also had a perseverance and discipline that can be learned.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jake LaFrance
  • 31-01-18

Great, informative book!

I love Ray Bradbury and this book gave some helpful advice to an aspiring writer.

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  • ES
  • 27-03-19

inspirational

If you've been feeling blocked, unmotivated or forgot how much FUN it can be to write, this will help. It's humorous and inspirational. He talks about how he got started writing and how he kept going. There's also a chapter where he answers reader's questions about his books, which was interesting.

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  • Ben J.
  • 16-04-20

Wonderful

This book is wonderful! Ray Bradbury is a terrific writer, and listening to his passion for writing fills my heart with envy.

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  • GerryDempsey
  • 21-03-20

Insightful and generous

I am a writer by hobby and I am very happy to have read this. Ray shares his intimate thoughts about his writing journey including his struggles while keeping it fast and completely on point. I came away feeling educated on how to write better and stick with it. I was very encouraged by this read. Thank you Mr Bradbury

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  • Maura
  • 01-10-19

Loved the energy and inspiration

Loved the feeling the narrator put in the words read. Opened my eyes to other ways of honing my creativity, imagination, and personal growth.

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  • A reader
  • 18-06-19

Very inspiring!

I found this book just as fascinating as the Martian Chronicles, for different reasons. It informs, educates, and entertains. My only peeves with this recording is the tone of the narrator. He read the entire book with a emphatic almost bombastic tone that didn’t match the content.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-09-18

Non-essential

Thus book has some decent writing advice/inspiration, but the author spends too much time talking about himself rather than the craft of writing.
He tells stories about his boyhood, his adult encounters with literary agents and often spends time on things that are irrelevant to the modern writer, such as the cost of renting a type writer.
If you want to hear a Bradbury's memoir you have come to right place. If all you really want is writing advice, I advise that you skip this title.
#tagsgiving

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