Teaching How To Live Forever

Laura Perkins works with the KDP chapters in the Southeast U.S. She went to school to be a teacher, but said “heck no” after one month of student teaching.

The Illustrated ManToday, several KDP staffers are celebrating the birthday of one of our favorite authors: Ray Bradbury. He lived from 1920 to 2012, and wrote hundreds of short stories, novels, screenplays, and so much more. His stories brought fantasy and science fiction to a broader audience.

I, like so many others, was introduced to his writing by one of my middle school teachers. Bradbury quickly became one of my first literary obsessions. I remember scrounging for the change to make a photocopy of “The Veldt,” because I just couldn’t bear to be parted from the first really powerful piece of fiction I’d ever read. My teacher knew how inspiring Bradbury’s storytelling could be and followed the readings with creative writing sessions. She used a tool that Bradbury had used himself early in his career: make lists of nouns to generate ideas for stories; string together ones that spoke to us; and let our imaginations go.

I’ve read several interviews where Bradbury talks about his own introduction to writing. In his memoir, Zen in the Art of Writing, he recounts meeting a carnival magician named Mr. Electrico in 1932 who commanded him to “Live forever!” which seemed to have opened up a new world for this twelve-year-old boy. Remembering the moment, Bradbury said, “I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped”.

It turned out my dad was a big fan as well, and we had a great time connecting over our shared love. At some point in my adolescence, when I was trustworthy enough, my dad gave me his signed copy of The Illustrated Man. It has always been one of my most cherished possessions and means even more to me now that my father has passed. Inside this book, I have my very worn copy of “The Veldt” that I still can’t seem to part with, even though the story is included in the novel. I’m so grateful to have been introduced to his writings and to have had the chance to make memories with my dad over these words.

It is clear that writing brought Bradbury joy, and I’m so glad it did. Ray Bradbury has inspired generations to use their imagination to create and has taught us all about the transformative power of literature. I’m sure his work will continue to touch new readers for years to come and maybe even inspire a new writer to dream, write and live forever.

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