Sitting here at my desk I’m contemplating what topic I should explore in this message to you. I consider talking about my upcoming first novel, The Illuminated Forest, to give you some insight into the whole process, the inspiration behind the characters, the setting, even the long and arduous crafting of the story, etc., but instead I think I want to share with you the inner workings of my unpredictable career path so far. I don’t know if it’s because this time of year invites introspection, but in any case, it makes me want to retrace my steps once more.
For more than 15 years I’ve been developing and writing literature for children, but for even more years than I care to count, I’ve been an artist to the full extent of the word. There is no aspect of the creative universe that I haven’t experimented with (except drugs, though surprisingly some people think that leaves my experimental phase incomplete!).
I’ve been creating art since I don’t know when, but I do remember when I was 6 years old making doodles on my grandmother’s walls where my “art” would remain obscured by a piece of furniture… until it wasn’t anymore and then I would be reprimanded for my “destructive” impulses. Afterwards there were the coloring books which I would abandon the moment the crayons would go outside the black lines and, like a madman, I would run back to the store to get a new book and start again! (Psychotic much?) By this time, it had become clear to my aunt Juanita that I possessed some kind of gift, and from then on, she kept watch over my progress and guided me towards what she thought would help me fulfill my destiny. That destiny began to unfold formally on a New Year’s Day when I was 16 and leaving my home for good so I could attend art school in the upscale Condado area of San Juan. Titi Juana had managed to enroll me in the Lucchetti School of Plastic Arts that specialized in art education.
The mixed feelings of leaving home were, in hindsight, a momentous turn in my early life. So that’s probably why I impulsively asked my father to take me to my grandparent’s house, which sadly had been abandoned and ransacked after their passing. I remember being angry at the family for doing absolutely nothing to protect their humble legacy. Since there was hardly anything there to take back with me, I decided to paint a portrait of the house so at least I could keep it clear in my mind and in my thoughts. The portrait was left with my parents for several years until I discovered it, almost forgotten, in the corner of a storage room. I took hold of it, and to this day it hangs on my bedroom wall where I can look at it every night and honor my grandparent’s life and the wonderful memories I treasure of living with them during my summer and Christmas vacations.
When I think about those years now, it becomes clear to me that my transformation from painter to writer was just a logical, organic transition. After being a painter for so many years, it wasn’t enough to just paint, I had to evolve into the written word where the creation of an image with words is far more challenging (and I desperately needed such a challenge). I think about this long but enjoyable process and I’m so thankful that this evolution has brought me to today, when I can contemplate the results of this five year labor of love writing The Illuminated Forest and, in turn, offer it as my finest gift to you!