HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
By
RAY BRADBURY

Last week I turned 82. 82! When I look in the mirror, the person staring back at me is a young boy, with a head and heart filled with dreams and excitement and unquenchable enthusiasm for life. Sure, he's got white hair -- so what! People often ask me how I stay so young, how I've kept such a "youthful" outlook. The answer is simple: Live a life in which you cram yourself with all kinds of metaphors, all kinds of activities, and all kinds of love. And take time to laugh -- find something that makes you truly happy -- every day of your life. That is what I have done, from my earliest days.

I fell in love with motion pictures when I was three years old and saw "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Lost World."

I moved on to become intrigued with magicians when I saw Blackstone the Magician on the stage.

Then I read the magazine Amazing Stories when I was eight and saw "Buck Rogers" when I was nine, and later, at thirteen, was impressed by the movie "King Kong."

My life filled up with these wonderful events and people and images, and they stirred my imagination so that by the time I was twelve I decided to become a writer. Just like that.

Now, all of these miraculous encounters are included in Jerry Weist's new book BRADBURY: AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE, which Morrow/Avon is publishing this October (just in time for Halloween, my favorite holiday). It's an incredible book jammed full of two or three hundred color photographs beginning at the start of my life, when as a child I collected books of fairy tales. From there it moves through the middle and later years of my life when I wrote screenplays for motion pictures such as "Moby Dick." Sometimes I find it hard to believe that my years have held such wonderful adventures; I've published thirty books, written thousands of short stories, and written sixty-four television shows for "Ray Bradbury Theater."

The act of writing is, for me, like a fever -- something I must do. And it seems I always have some new fever developing, some new love to follow and bring to life.

I've never doubted myself; I've always been so completely devoted to libraries and books and authors that I couldn't stop to consider for a moment that I was being foolish. I only knew that writing was in itself the only way to live and I think Jerry's book proves that.

Currently my film "A Sound of Thunder" is being filmed in Czechoslovakia and should be in theaters some time next summer. I have high hopes for it, and also for a remake of "Fahrenheit 451," to be directed by Frank Darabont, who directed "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile."

I am now finishing a new mystery novel, LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE, which will be published in January 2003. Beyond that, I intend to produce several books of essays and poems.

As you can see, I have never stopped writing which means I have never stopped loving. And, so I say, "Happy Birthday to Me!" After all, I'm only 82. There's so much more to do, to see, to experience, to create. I'd better get busy . . .

-- Ray Bradbury, August 29, 2002