My Life in Books

THIS BLOG IS MY LOVE LETTER TO THE BOOKS OF MY LIFE

Now, for the longform version

Reading and Writing

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Together with my cousin, Walter and my brother, Jose, we used to create He-man and Thundercats cartoons during infernally hot Florida summers.  We didn’t realize it at the time, but what we were doing was creating elaborate fanfiction.  We even tried our hand at ones based on Dungeons and Dragons, re-enacting those adventures in the stifling, humid shrubs of my aunt’s back yard.  We were completely engrossed in the hybrid worlds we created and oblivious to the horrible weather (I’m not so fortunate now at my age). I’m only sorry that I never kept some of those early writings, as a memory of who we were.

As I grew older, I discovered that I had a compulsive need to write things. I kept journals. I wrote poetry. I was the only kid in my AP Literature class who loved writing those damned analytical papers that Mrs. G. assigned every two weeks – full-process essays that included rough drafts, peer editing and rubrics. She assigned essays that demanded in-text citations, footnotes and elaboration and I loved writing each and every one of them.  When I became an English teacher many years later and was hired by my alma mater, that same English teacher, now a colleague, showed me a copy of the analytical paper I wrote on characterization in “Bartleby the Scrivener.”  She’d kept it and used it as a model essay for twenty years.  Kids were learning how to write analytical essays using my amateur analysis and I had been none the wiser.

English/European Literature

But I never thought I could actually write professionally. No, I attended Rutger’s University and became an English Literature major because I loved reading.  I eventually chose to become a Language Arts and Reading teacher because I figured, besides being a Media Specialist, it was the only job that would actually pay me to read.  I wasn’t ambitious enough to actually work for a publishing house. That hadn’t even occurred to me.   A lot of things hadn’t occurred to me. I just didn’t have the life experience to consider the possibilities.  I had been raised by a single, Puerto Rican, teenage mother in Jersey City before it became part of the Gold Coast.  She spent most of her short life on welfare.   Yet she gave me so much!  She loved to read also and used to buy the Harlequin Romances for a dime each by the bag-full from the used book shops in Union City, NJ.   Perhaps not the best reading for a young girl but it became a launching off point for other books – mythology, science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, horror and finally, literature, as if I were on an upward moving elevator, my preferred books becoming deeper, richer and more complex.

My literary world opened up further when I moved to Germany with my husband and taught foreign languages for six years.  At first, I steeped myself in European literature, as befit the fact that I was being hosted by those countries.  So Dante, Goethe, Manzoni and Mann became a part of my lexicon as well as their modern descendants.

Latin American Literature

Then I made a further discovery when I stumbled on writers like Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Paolo Coehlo and others. Latin-American literature spoke to me in a primitive way no other literature had ever done, like a language I recalled from the womb. It painted pictures in plants and foods and words I had only ever experienced at home and they welcomed me, not like an interloper in the world of books, where everyone was white and educated and so very well-off.  I started to see other flavors, other possibilities and it was a huge tectonic shift in the way I saw literature.

Experimenting

Many authors don’t like to admit this, but I actually realized that I could be a writer when I fell into fanfiction as an adult.   I didn’t actually know at the time what I was getting into and never dreamed that my voracious reading had been a training ground for writing until I got on the fanfiction train and began to take that ride.  Over the course of three years, I’ve written several stories for different fandoms.  As I interacted more and more with the fan community, I met other writers like me who were trying to get published. We banded together, creating groups that edited each other’s work, encouraged each other and shared information. I have learned so much with my friends. I found not just writing circles but also writing courses, master classes, and mentors.  I realized there was a craft that I had to get good at and set myself to being a student again. I’m still learning and hopefully, I’ll just keep getting better.

More importantly, I saw that there were still other kinds of stories – each one a legitimate testament to the infinite variety of human experience.  Because of the explosion of e-books and self-publishing, there was now truly something for everyone, if you had access to the internet.  Suddenly, I didn’t feel so damned weird anymore.  My identity was legitimated through the stories of minorities around me and I finally began to see myself in some of the books I read, even if sometimes I appeared in the form of a caricature.  In some cases, I became more than a stereotype. I was a protagonist, a fully-fleshed character. I was real.

Books have been my friend all my life.  I hope to be able to share what that has meant to me in these pages.

My website is named after the gorgeous trilogy on the history of the Americas called The Memory of Fire by Eduardo Galeano.  I am heavily influenced by Latin American Literature but if you visit my Goodreads, you will see I have a fairly wide range of interests (the list there is by no means exhaustive!). I hope you enjoy this website and don’t hesitate to message me about any comments or questions you may have!  Click below for my information and feel free to follow me on any platform you like!

Thank you!