Author Ray Bradbury died this week at age 91. His life was eulogized all week long by the media, as well it should have been. He was a prolific and prophetic writer who penned 27 novels and hundreds of short stories.
Mr. Bradbury and I met once when I was on the Board of Directors (and one of the founding members) of the Los Angeles writer’s association, Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC). *
At the time, we were putting together an Advisory Board of prominent Los Angeles writers to help give our relatively young professional organization more visibility and credibility. Bradbury was one of those writers. He graciously accepted our invitation to join the Advisory Board, lending his name and reputation to forward the mission of the organization. He seemed to understand that writers, particularly “freelance” or “independent” writers faced considerable career challenges and was supportive of our efforts to bring economic, educational and networking opportunities to our members.
He showed up late at his office for our meeting. He had been delayed, he explained, but not by traffic because he rode his bicycle to work from his home in nearby Cheviot Hills. His office, at the time in a building in downtown Beverly Hills, was small, cluttered and not particularly memorable, except for the typewriter on the desk. That he wrote on a typewriter for most of his career now seems odd considering he dreamed up many technical devices in his fictional work that have now come into existence. (Personal computers, at the time I met him, were just coming into use.) Bradbury was charming and listened with interest as I explained to him what IWOSC was attempting to do. He seemed to understand that ours was a daunting, yet noble, undertaking. Trying to unite fiercely “independent” writers of all sorts in the Los Angeles area was geographically problematical in itself. He must have been convinced that we could do because he agreed to join us as one of our “advisors.”
Before leaving, I asked him if he’d sign my paperback copy of his book, “Dandelion Wine,” one of my personal favorites of his work. He did and I still have the book today although its more tattered and yellowed. (Note to future author signature seekers, use a good hard copy, not a cheap paperback.)
This Advisory Board role didn’t require much of Bradbury’s time but, back then, just lending his name, along with author Irving Stone and writer/entertainer Steve Allen and others, was a major contribution to our fledging group. IWOSC has continued to flourish in Los Angeles for nearly 30 years now. I have long-lost count of the number of writers that it has served but it continues to provide support and services to its current membership. It’s likely that IWOSC would have survived and thrived even if Mr. Bradbury hadn’t agreed to be on our board, but I’ve never forgotten that he, a successful, best-selling author, remained sympathetic to the working writer’s struggles.
Thank you Mr. Bradbury for all your wonderful words and thank you from your fellow writers for helping us further our efforts to better the freelance writers’ world.
You can learn more about IWOSC at its website: http://www.iwosc.org/pastevents2006/index.html.
*Before launching my photography business in Bellingham in 1997, I was a full-time freelance journalist based in Los Angeles, writing for, among other publications, TIME Magazine. I also had the privilege of being one of the six founding members of IWOSC.