About 15 years ago my critique group heard Ray Bradbury speak at a writer's conference sponsored by Point Loma  Nazarene University.  Attendants helped this elderly, remarkable man onto the stage and into an easy chair and for the next two hours he held the packed audience spellbound as he told stories of his youth, his successes and his disappointments.

The fact he never attended college impressed me the most. With no money for college, he attended a library in Los Angeles 3 days a week for 10 years, reading, a habit started in his youth when he read his favorite authors in the Carnegie Library in Waukegan, Illinois. We shared a love of Edgar Allen Poe's writings.

His firm belief in the importance of libraries struck a similar chord in me.  When he began writing his own science fiction he had his years of reading it to fall back on. He wrote Fahrenheit 451 in UCLA's Powell Library on a typewriter rented for 10 cents a half-hour.

His remarks made me realize how easy my writer's life was, and drove home how many opportunities I was allowing to pass me buy.

The youngest member of our critique group insisted on fighting the mob to get her copy of Zen and the Art of Writing signed. I was content just to sit and wait for her while mulling over everything he'd said and how it applied to me as a writer. She returned, all starry-eyed because Ray Bradbury "asked me what I wrote."

Looking back,  I'm sorry I passed up the opportunity to breathe the same air perhaps the best writer of my generation breathed that night.


On a lighter note but a related topic,  I'm happy to report the City found an unexpected windfall and our local libraries are opening again on Mondays. I'd be a happy camper if they'd reopen on Saturdays, now, too.