FINDING NEW VOICES
DEFINING NEW GENRES
In the 80’s, I wrote the author, Stephen King, a letter. You see, he is one of my favorite writers ever
and I was a bit obsessed with him, had even thought of going to Bangor, Maine just so I could possibly catch a glimpse of him walking down the road or drinking coffee in his favorite café. The letter wasn’t very nice. He had disappointed me. I didn’t feel his recent work was up to par with the standards I had held him to, with the greatness that he was and is. To my utter surprise, he wrote me back. He told me he was under contract to write three books in a small amount of time and he agreed that his work may not have been his best. He promised me if I would stay with him and not stray, he would be back to his old self. I fell even more in love with him because now to me he was a real person, with real feelings and not just a writing machine pumping out book after book with disregard to his readers. He cared.
He cared enough to not only take the time to respond to me but to respond to me in an apologetic way. In a human way, in a way that I could grasp and understand, with passion. He could have easily told me to go fuck myself. So moved was I by his response, I would sit down a few days later and attempt to write my first short story.
In the early 90’s I became obsessed with the writer Anne Rice. I consumed her Vampire Chronicles and the lives of the Mayfair Witches. But her work as A.N. Roquelaure, The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, would have a huge impact on me. The beauty of the erotica and the grace and elegance with which she wrote it was not comparable to any work I had ever read. She was in a league all her own. I would be further moved by her bout with alcoholism, her weight, the death of her child. I realized then her writing probably helped heal her, mend her, fill that void. I would have an ah-ha moment over this.
There would be many writers I would fall for over the years. Henry Miller, Raymond Carver, Tom Robbins, Joan Didion, William Styron, Charles Bukowski, Anais Nin, to name a few. They have all inspired much in me.
When I was 16, I took a creative writing class simply because the instructor was a beautiful man. I wrote a lot of poetry and short pieces in that class. My teacher was the inspiration for most of the writing, unbeknownst to him. On the last day of class he pulled me aside after everyone was gone and told me I had a gift, a true gift and that my destiny would be to become a writer. Although it would be many, many years later before I would dig my feet in and plant myself, he had been right.
You have heard many writers say they didn’t choose their profession, it chose them. I don’t choose to spend most days alone, holed up in a café or the confines of my small apartment. I don’t choose to watch every penny, or cancel hair appointments because I didn’t make enough last night waiting tables. I don’t choose to have fits of sadness, anxiety, angst, self-doubt or extreme loneliness. Yes, I miss my daughters and lots of social time with friends. I thought after my marriage ended I would miss being in a relationship, having a partner. I couldn’t imagine going without sex for more than a week. I have been constantly in a relationship since I was 14. I have gone this entire year without a man and the truth is I have never been happier. The truth is, I feel a pull, a need to write, a want, a desire. I feel this is my time. This is my call and right now it prevails over everything else. Hell, I even took Stephen King’s advice and got rid of my television yesterday. I am excited and I look forward to what 2016 holds in store for me.
Tess Rosa Ruiz