Ray Bradbury inspired millions. My first experience with him was Something Wicked This Way Comes, and later Fahrenheit 451 and many, many of his short stories. It was those shorts that inspired me the most. Bradbury had trouble getting published early in his career, and he had hundreds of stories rejected. He advocated persistence to struggling writers. He became an icon of that persistence.
Fast forward a number of years, and I joined Write 1 Sub 1, a yearly experiment in Ray Bradbury's shadow (that's one of our official slogans, by the by). I went on to follow in that shadow, submitting stories as Bradbury advised, getting rejected. Trying again. Wash, rinse, lather...
I never met Bradbury, not in person. But I like to think I met him many times through his stories. I count myself lucky to be among the millions he inspired. I owe my start in publishing to him. I owe many of my childhood dreams to him. And I like to think that he would tell me to not be sad, but to get my butt in gear and get back to writing (and he would say that in a much classier, more lyrical way than I could ever invent).
And I would say, "Thank you, Mr. Bradbury. Thank you."