Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ray Bradbury's "great blizzard of rejection slips"

In Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz (son of Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon series), a number of authors and celebrities were invited to write a five hundred word essay on how a favourite cartoon strip from Peanuts related to some aspect of their writing life.

This is what the sci-fi author Ray Bradbury had to say, on the subject of the rejection of his work by publishers:

“The amazing Blackstone came to town when I was seven, and I saw how he came alive onstage and thought, God, I want to grow up to be like that! And I ran up to help him vanish an elephant. To this day I don't know where the elephant went. One moment it was there, the next -- abracadabra -- with a wave of the wand it was gone!

“In 1929 Buck Rogers came into the world, and on that day in October a single panel of Buck Rogers comic strip hurled me into the future. I never came back.

“It was only natural when I was twelve that I decided to become a writer and laid out a huge roll of butcher paper to begin scribbling an endless tale that scrolled right on up to Now, never guessing that the butcher paper would run forever.

“Snoopy has written me on many occasions from his miniature typewriter, asking me to explain what happened to me in the great blizzard of rejection slips of 1935. Then there was the snowstorm of rejection slips in '37 and '38 and an even worse winter snowstorm of rejections when I was twenty-one and twenty-two. That almost tells it, doesn't it, that starting when I was fifteen I began to send short stories to magazines like Esquire, and they, very promptly, sent them back two days before they got them! I have several walls in several rooms of my house covered with the snowstorm of rejections, but they didn't realize what a strong person I was; I persevered and wrote a thousand more dreadful short stories, which were rejected in turn. Then, during the late forties, I actually began to sell short stories and accomplished some sort of deliverance from snowstorms in my fourth decade. But even today, my latest books of short stories contain at least seven stories that were rejected by every magazine in the United States and also in Sweden! So, dear Snoopy, take heart from this. The blizzard doesn't last forever; it just seems so.”

~ Text: Ray Bradbury in Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life. The book is available from Amazon.

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012) was an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. He was best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and The Illustrated Man (1951). Ray Bradbury was an influence on my own writing and, having passed away in 2012, he'll be fondly remembered and missed by many.

~ Photo: Ray Bradbury in 1975, taken by Alan Light. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

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