Like many, I was saddened to hear about the sudden passing of Anne Rice. But for me it goes much deeper than that. Simply put, this woman is why I write. Others planted seeds but she was very much the water that nourished it and the sun it reached toward.
I discovered her work around the age of 18 and I can still remember reading them in the lobby of the Marriott hotel where I would go on my lunch break because the nearby coffee houses were far too busy. Everything from Interview with the Vampire to Blackwood Farm I read in that spot, and at some point in that time decided I to be a writer.
Actually, there was no real “decision”. It wasn’t something so ordered as that. She made me feel something through her writing that I didn’t know what else to do with. It became an extension of my mind and body. A part of who I was. To use her words, she gave me the Dark Gift, and so I was to give it to others if I could.
“If.” Key word.
At one point, she was very active on her Facebook page and in more recent works even offered dedication to “The People of the Page”. One day I briefly voiced my frustrations in the constant pursuit of publication to no avail when she shared an article about someone who had gotten a publishing deal from having written fan fiction, of all things. This was a time when I was very much fed up. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but at that particular moment I had had no success. None. Not even close and there was absolutely nothing on the horizon to make me think that I was anything other than a fool on a fool’s errand.
In an act that I’m sure must have seemed trivial to her, she reached down like a hand from above and bestowed upon me this wisdom that I have cherished as holy writ ever since:
“Keep the faith. It’s not a foot race, and if she can make it, so can you.”
Faith of any kind has always been a dubious concept to me to say the least, but in that moment I went from nursing a distant, intangible hope to truly believing. That kept me going. That kept me not only driven but firm in the belief that it was possible to be published despite all signs to the contrary up until then. It’s what eventually led to my first acceptance, and by extension, carried me through the long and arduous road of publishing my first book that I had worked so long and so hard on. I wanted to quit then too, but I didn’t. And this is why.
I was never fortunate enough to have met her in person, but if I had I would have said the following: Thank you. For your talent, your courage, your doubt, your belief, your loss, your pain, and for sharing it all with us. You were there for me when I didn’t know why I was here, when I experienced the same doubts and losses and wanted to quit, in more ways than one.
She didn’t just make me want to write, she made me believe in myself. If I just kept trying, just kept writing, and just kept the faith. She told me to keep going when I faltered. She meant and continues to mean the world to me, and that world is a little bit darker today without her in it. But the light she shed will live on in those of us whose life she touched and affected forever.
She’s with Stan and Michelle now, and has the answer to the almighty mysteries I know she had grappled with for so long.
Whatever that is.