Writer Quotes: Bradbury.

“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.” -Ray Bradbury.

The realization that I haven’t done a Writer Quote post in a long time struck me the other day, and, as I’m coming out of two days where I haven’t had a chance to post something, I thought now was a good time. Sunday, alas, was a day that had me working (and hard!) for nearly 12 hours. Monday was much more pleasant. My older brother and his family came to Chicago for the weekend, and they drove out to visit the Brookfield Zoo with me. I’m a huge fan of the zoo, so even after they left to drive back to Michigan, I stuck around for another four more hours, which mean about seven hours at the zoo in the hot sun, so I was beat when I got home. It was still really great to see my family, though, including their new little baby, and I got a lot of inspiration from the park itself. Also, I’m pretty sure I saw a guy pushing around a Real Doll in a wheelchair, which was absurd and inspiring. Almost as amusing was the teenager with the ‘Furries Ruin Everything’ t-shirt (and I can only hope she chose to wear it specifically for the zoo…)

But enough about that. Onto this quote from Ray Bradbury, which I find incredibly inspiring. And I also find it very interesting. I was going to add to it that this theory of hard work applied to writing leading to a career in that respect is just even better when the writer is pretty great, but I realized that the magic comes from the fact that all that hard work and determination makes a person a better writer. Just like any other practised skill, the more something is done, the finer it gets. Even if you really are a talentless hack, you can build from something abysmal to something at least palatable. When it comes to writing, of course I find delight in a turn of phrase, in clever allusions and prose that just sings off the page. But I’m also quite fond of books that, while the writing might not be the best, are telling a great and interesting story, and you can tell that the person who wrote it cared and had a passion about their words.

And, really? Even outside the context of writing, I adore this quote. ‘Any man who keeps working is not a failure.’ I was raised to really appreciate the value of hard work, and I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that, even though the results might not be what was anticipated, the point is that you tried, you gave it your all, and you are a better person because of it. Never give up, always keep working, in some form of another. Very rarely will you be worse off because of it.

Also, one thing I haven’t been able to do yet is thank my latest subscribers! So, to Poison Strings and JLT, welcome aboard! Good to have you along for the journey!


  1. I agree. Hard work has to get you somewhere… and as with many other pursuits, passion for writing comes through in how we write our prose. And now, I have to get back to work. ; )

  2. Ray is dreaming. Career? With respect to cartoons there are probably less that 100 world wide that make a living at it. There is so much talent and the syndicates add two or three new strips a year out of thousands of submissions of very talented people. To see what I mean, The New Yorker offers a gallery of rejected cartoons. The stuff is stellar. The pros advise the cartoonists that if you can make 2 or three thousand a year you are doing very well. Of course there is no argument against “keep working”. The third week of my blog a mag in Brisbane , Australia wanted to publish a cartoon I post and has a dozen in file for future use.

    • I think the key here is that he states “some kind of a career.” He didn’t necessarily say a good one. Technically, I have some kind of a career in tea right now; I don’t make a lot, but it does pay the bills (mostly). And even if I only make $20 a month on my writing once my book is published, it’s still some kind of a career in writing.

      Now, if he said all you needed was hard work to become the next great writer and have a great career, then I’d be inclined to agree with you, Carl.

  3. I’m not a big fan of “inspiring” quotes generally speaking, but I do like this one. It’s along the lines of being lucky, yet the harder you work, the luckier you become.

    • Exactly. Luck doesn’t just show up; you’ve actually got to work a little for it to find you. I was going to quote Wayne Gretsky here, too, but I’ll spare you. : )

  4. Great quote and great post! I agree with what you say here. Got to keep at it. Can I quote Bob Dylan – “The only think I knew how to do was to keep on keeping on.” Good luck.

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