What mediocrity teaches you: Ray Bradbury


Confiscated from Zen and the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity, by Ray Bradbury:

I’m an automatic screenwriter; I always have been. I’ve always belonged to films. I’m a child of movies. I’ve seen every film ever made, starting when I was two. I’m just chockful.

When I was seventeen, I was seeing as many as twelve to fourteen movies a week.

Well, that’s a hell of a lot of movies. That means I’ve seen everything, and that means all the crap.

But that’s good. It’s a way of learning. You’ve got to learn how not to do things. Just seeing excellent films doesn’t educate you at all, because they’re mysterious. A great film is mysterious. There’s no way of solving it.

Why does Citizen Kane work? Well, it just does. It’s brilliant on every level, and there’s no way of putting your finger on any one thing that’s right. It’s just all right.

But a bad film is immediately evident, and it can teach you more: “I’ll never do that, and I’ll never do that, and I’ll never do that.”

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