Writing in Ray Bradbury’s Shadow: Write1Sub1

Shimmer author Milo James Fowler joins us this week, to talk about the writing challenge he created, thanks to Ray Bradbury.


What makes someone a literary legend? Does he have to live long enough to see his work become popular? Outlive his critics? For many writers in the past, a true fan base only developed posthumously.

Not so with Ray Bradbury. Novels, short stories, poetry, plays—his body of work is loved the world over. But once upon a time, he was just a struggling young writer in love with the craft. He wrote a short story every week, polished it up, and submitted it to a magazine. Rejection letters flooded in, mainly due to his prolific submissions. But there were also acceptances along the way, and they inspired Bradbury to keep doing what he loved: telling stories as only he could.

Seeing him at the Escondido library in the fall of 2009 was a surreal experience I’ll never forget. He spoke about being a “lover of life,” and that, for him, writing was always a labor of love. He told us that night, “If you can write one short story a week—doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing. At the end of the year, you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done.”

A year later, a reader commented on my blog that I seemed to be announcing a short story publication every month. I responded by saying that compared to Bradbury, I was nowhere near as prolific, but that someday I hoped to follow in his footsteps.

“Someday” turned out to be 2011.

It was time to take the proverbial bull by the horns and see if I could do it: write and submit a new story every week. And since misery and joy both love company, I decided to invite fellow writers Simon Kewin and Stephen V. Ramey along for the ride. Thus, Write1Sub1 was born. Now with over three hundred participants this year, we’re still going strong, and I can honestly say I’ve grown as a writer because of this challenge.

W1S1 has forced me to take my writing seriously and carve out a chunk of time for it every day. It’s also taught me how to deal with a deadline—how to write fast and revise slow, and to get my work off the hard drive and into an editor’s inbox. Along the way, I’ve created some of my best work. “Soulless in His Sight,” appearing in Shimmer #15, is one example from Write1Sub1 Week 9 last year. It’s a story I’m proud of, but it’s just one of 52 that wouldn’t exist without this challenge and our supportive community of writers.

Thank you, Mr. Bradbury, for inspiring us. You told us it could be done, and you were right

3 thoughts on “Writing in Ray Bradbury’s Shadow: Write1Sub1”

  1. Nice tribute, Milo. It’s one thing to look at a great writer and want to emulate him; it’s another entirely to put the work in and prove yourself. Thanks for hauling the rest of us along with you.

  2. You are doing a great thing with W1S1, Milo. I think Ray would have been very pleased to know all that he inspired in you, and the rest of us.

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