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NaNoWriMo & Maurice Broaddus 

It’s November and the air has finally turned cold. Writers everywhere are more than happy to prepare their cups of coffee and snuggle up with their keyboards as they participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). 

NaNoWriMo has been encouraging writers since 1999, offering what they call “a straightforward challenge” – to write a full-length novel in one month. A number of bestselling novels were originally written for NaNoWriMo before being published, including Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Every year, thousands of writers of all ages join in the month-long challenge. 

While this challenge may be straightforward and exciting, it is still a daunting task for many. 

On October 27, Maurice Broaddus joined theCenter for Ray Bradbury Studies to host the 4th Annual Ray Bradbury Visiting Writer’s Lecture. He not only discussed his life and experiences around writing, but also offered a number of tips for the burgeoning writer.

Broaddus is a librarian at the Oaks Academy Middle School, an editor for Apex Magazine, and the resident Afrofuturist at the Kheprw Institute. His novels include The Knights of Breton Court, Pimp My Airship, and The Usual Suspects.


During his guest lecture, Broaddus talked about his development as a black author and the role that Ray Bradbury played in that development. He finished out the talk with a brief Q&A, including a few questions pertaining to writing and the writing process. Here’s an example (abbreviated transcription):

Q:What would you suggest to motivate a person to start writing a short story if they don’t know where to start?

A: I tell my students – you have something to say. You have something you care about. You have something you’re passionate about. What is that something? That’s where I would begin. We have these things that we care about, and sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out what it is I care about and how do I apply it here – and just go. And then, my favorite rule I give my students: Give yourself permission to suck. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be good. We can fix anything in later drafts. Just get it out there. Get the ideas out there – raw, unvarnished. There’s a lot of power in some raw words – there’s some power there so get it out there. Because what’s coming out – what’s erupting out as you’re vomiting words out onto the page – you’re vomiting from this place of stuff that you care about, stuff that you’re passionate about. You’d be surprised once you tap into what you care about – once you figure that out, the words will come.

To Hear more nuggets of writing wisdom from Maurice Broaddus, head over to our YouTube channel! 

Golden Apple Picks

By Jordan Brinker-Saigaonkar
 
My name is Jordan Brinker-Saigaonkar and I joined the Bradbury Center team in March 2020 as their Web Marketing Manager. Unlike most of my co-workers, I didn’t have the same introduction to Bradbury that others have with the reading of Fahrenheit 451. In fact, until I began working at the Bradbury Center, I was semi-convinced that I hadn’t read a single page of Bradbury. However, the first day I walked into the archive, I saw a large film poster on the wall that said in very bold letters “A Sound of Thunder: Some Rules Should Never Be Broken.” Memories from 7th grade reading class with Mr. Heintzelman came flooding back. Time travel and dinosaurs and pesky butterflies began floating behind my lids as I was catapulted into childhood wonder. It had been one of my favorite stories that year. It was then that I knew I had found my home at the Bradbury Center. 

READ

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

In honor of NaNoWriMo, this month’s pick is a previous winner of the contest and is inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Something wicked This Way Comes! “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves and it is only open at night...”

WATCH

Army of Thieves on Netflix  

If you love quirky characters, heists and a sprinkling of zombies, then I highly recommend this film! In this prequel to "Army of the Dead," a mysterious woman recruits bank teller Ludwig Dieter to help her crew crack three legendary safes across Europe.

LISTEN

My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark  

This is a bit of an unusual podcast as it blends true crime and comedy, but if you love either, you will definitely enjoy this podcast. They discuss things like murder, of course, but also mental health & victim’s advocacy. And if you’re still not enticed, some of the best pull quotes from the show are things like “Call your dad, you’re in a cult” and “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.” 

Bradburyisms

“And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right. We must earn life once it has been awarded us. Life asks for rewards back because it has favored us with animation.​ So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.” 

–Ray Bradbury, excerpt from Zen in the Art of Writing (1994)

Though I have now read several of Bradbury’s works of fiction, I had not encountered his nonfiction until flipping open a copy of Zen in the Art of Writing. Reflective essays are my favorite type of writing. Reading Bradbury’s thoughts in such a form made me feel as if I had been invited personally into his artistic confidence. 

In the collection, Bradbury details his experience with and musings on writing, including insight into one method for overcoming creative blocks. He would make lists of nouns that served as word associations to early memories, for example: “THE LAKE. THE NIGHT. THE CRICKETS. THE RAVINE…” (17). In these lists, Bradbury would search for patterns that illuminated childhood fears and delights and stumble into a story from there. 

Bradbury’s rich remembrances, I think, contribute to the timelessness of his tales. He brought his full humanity to his writings that came from these lists. Reading these works, even fictionalized, forces me to remember my own.

By Sarah Whaley 

Fun Facts From the Archive 

Passed Over Pillar
by Max Goller

Director’s Note
Not long after we sent our last newsletter, the Bradbury Center team had the great honor of hosting Emmy Award-winning actor, Bill Oberst Jr. Bill was in Indianapolis offering his captivating one-man play, Pillar of Fire. Bill has been a long-time Ray Bradbury fanatic, and over the years he has become a very good friend of the Bradbury Center. Bill was kind enough to let us record him as he shared some of his personal history with Ray Bradbury, and we’ve included a portion of that in the following video. We hope you’ll watch and enjoy it.
-Jason Aukerman, Director
The Bradbury Center and its programs operate on generous support from Bradbury enthusiasts like you. Consider supporting our work with a donation and Live Forever! If you already donate: THANK YOU! 
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