Upon hearing of Ray Bradbury passing I thought of you and wanted to share this for what it's worth. Disregard if you've heard this before.
Though not technically a commencement speech, this remarkable keynote address by Ray Bradbury at The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea is brimming with the kind of invaluable wisdom you wish someone had pinned to your mind in your early twenties, so you could laminate it for the rest of your life.
I want your loves to be multiple. I don’t want you to be a snob about anything. Anything you love, you do it. It’s got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say “Oh, my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ…”, you know. Now, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else.
Now, what I’m thinking of it, people always saying “Well, what do we do about a sudden blockage in your writing? What if you have a blockage and you don’t know what to do about it?” Well, it’s obvious you’re doing the wrong thing, don’t you? In the middle of writing something you go blank and your mind says: “No, that’s it”. Ok. You’re being warned, don’t you? Your subconscious is saying “I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for”. You’re being political, or you’re being socially aware. You’re writing things that will benefit the world. To hell with that! I don’t write things to benefit the world. If it happens that they do, swell. I didn’t set out to do that. I set out to have a hell of a lot of fun.
I’ve never worked a day in my life. I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: “Am I being joyful?” And if you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject.
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