I don't remember exactly how old I was when I first found a volume of Ray Bradbury's short stories. I do remember being absolutely stunned at the depth of work I found between the covers. (Admittedly, I was probably twelve or so at the time and easily stunned by literary prowess.)
That sense of wonder is something that never fails to return when I pick up one of Bradbury's books. Something Wicked This Way Comes remains at the top of my all time favorite books. Closely followed by From the Dust Returned, The Illustrated Man, and Dandelion Wine.
But I have a very special place in my soul for the novella Somewhere A Band is Playing.
A few years ago I had put Now and Forever on my wish list at Amazon.com. And one of my family members bought it for me for Christmas. I was excited (never having read it before) but busy and put it on the shelf. Last summer I pulled it down and read the first of the two novellas in the book (Somewhere a Band Is Playing). It starts off with a mystery, a quaint little town where everyone lives and is happy but no one ever seems to work.
I know how Bradbury loves the bizarre, the horrific, so I wonder: Is it a ghost town? No. It's something far stranger - a town full of writers. Oh, it makes me laugh. It's a beautiful, and funny, little story. It's a story every writer should read.
When I first read Bradbury I wanted to write like he did. I tried to write like he did. And failed, miserably, I might add.
Now, I think, I'm finally beginning to realize that it's not about writing like a master (even one like Bradbury or King or Williams or Peake). It's about writing until you are a master in your own right.
That only comes when we put in the effort to learn our craft by writing every day.