Ray Bradbury, Mr. Electro, and Dandelion Wine: A Writer Blossoms
by Ellen Buikema
We begin life with many possible futures, determined primarily by our innate gifts and environment. Serendipity also plays a role, shifting the way we look at life and what we choose to do with it.
Mr. Electro sat in an enormous chair, hair sticking up – body glowing with electricity. With a charged sword, he touched 12-year-old Ray on the shoulders and the tip of his nose, and said, “Live forever!”
Ray returned the following day and found Mr. Electro, sans electric charge. He introduced young Bradbury to other members of the carnival. He told the boy, “We’ve met before. You were my best friend in France and you died in my arms in the battle of the Ardennes forest. And here you are, born again, in a new body, with a new name. Welcome back!”
The chance meeting with Mr. Electro was the impetus for Bradbury’s writing. He kept writing. Every day. He felt that his best stories were dredged from his subconscious, although sometimes it was difficult to tell whether the many remembrances were true to life or dreams. One such memory was of dandelion wine.
On a trip back to his hometown, Ray bumped into the town barber, who once boarded in Ray’s grandfather’s house. “Your grandad had a wine press in the basement,” he told Bradbury. “He’d send you and your brother across the street with gunnysacks, and you’d come back loaded with dandelions. You’d take them down to the basement and your grandfather would put them in the press and make dandelion wine.”
What Ray thought to be a dream, making dandelion wine, had truly happened.
Bradbury felt that practice is the key to being a good writer. Write every day, read voraciously, and do not go to college to become a writer. He felt one must follow one’s own taste, not the college’s idea of what is best.
Bradbury’s influence is vast. A plethora of writers and filmmakers have been inspired by him: Steven King, Christopher Moore, Brett Alexander Savory, Barry Hoffman, Gary Kurtz, and Steven Spielberg are some of Bradbury’s creative children.
Ray Bradbury has changed many lives and will, without doubt, change countless more, just as Mr. Electro forever altered Ray’s future.
Information gathered for this post comes from Timothy Perrin of Writer’s Digest, Ray Bradbury’s Children. 1985.
Ellen Buikema is a writer, speaker, and former teacher. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, she received her M.Ed. specializing in Early Childhood. She has extensive post-graduate studies in special education from Northeastern Illinois University. Ellen writes short stories, poetry, adult non-fiction and children’s fiction, sprinkling humor everywhere possible. Find her at EllenBuikema.com, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, YouTube for Sock Puppet Tim videos, and ItMattersRadio.com for a podcast interview.