Local Vet Pens Book of Short Stories

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

The writing bug bit Ray Morrison when he was very young and he was always writing stories. He may have continued writing stories if it wasn’t for a chance encounter with a veterinarian.

Raised by an aunt who had Siamese cats, one day his aunt asked Ray to come with her when she took her cat to the vet. Meeting the veterinarian and watching him care for his aunt’s cat mesmerized him. He was captivated and immediately knew that was what he wanted to be when he grew up. Writing was replaced by the dream of being a veterinarian.

Achieving that dream took Ray first to Purdue University where he received his undergraduate degree, and then to Virginia Tech’s School of Veterinary Medicine. He left Blacksburg with a DVM degree and his future wife, classmate Jeni Geisler.

After their marriage, Ray and Jeni both found jobs at a veterinary clinic in Charlotte. A short time later, Ray heard that Ard-Vista Animal Hospital in Winston-Salem was for sale and he contacted the owners, who were planning to retire. Ray and Jeni worked at the hospital for a year to become familiar with the practice and its patients, and then in 1991, Ray and Jeni purchased Ard-Vista.

Ray’s interest in writing was almost forgotten due to the intensity of vet school, starting his career, and his practice at Ard-Vista. But somewhere in the back of his mind, the writing bug was still there, waiting for the right chance to resurface. One evening when he and his wife were having dinner with friends, his friend announced “I’m writing a novel.” This chance comment, Ray said, was “the catalyst to remind me how much I loved writing.” Ray couldn’t get the idea of writing a novel out of his head, so in his free time, he plunged back into writing. Two and a half years later, his first novel was finished. “It was terrible,” he confessed, “and quickly rejected by publishers.”

That’s when another friend suggested he write short stories instead. He tried his hand at that and loved it. He sent a story to a critique service and got a good response and that gave him the push he needed to write more stories. He attended conferences and local writing workshops, and joined Winston-Salem Writers as a charter member. Just as he knew he wanted to be a vet when he was young, he now knew he wanted to be a writer.

Being at the “write” place at the right time was the next stepping stone Ray needed. He took a fiction writing glass at Salem College taught by Kevin Watson, who was just starting Press 53. He suggested Ray enter Press 53’s short story contest and he won first prize. Kevin asked to review more of Ray’s stories and after reading his submissions, offered to publish a collection of his short stories. In 2012 his first book was published, “In a World of Small Truths.” The stories range from affairs of the heart and the pain of divorce, to the angst of youth, some heartbreaking and others funny, capturing the “small truths” in the lives of the characters. Proceeds from the sale of the book at Ard-Vista go into the Buddy Fund to help defray the cost of treatment for stray animals and for clients who cannot afford it. In September Press 53 will release Ray’s second book, “I Hear the Human Noise.”

Ray offers this advice to new writers: It’s never too late to start – just sit down and write! Read books and stories by good writers. Seek out knowledgeable writers for advice. And don’t be afraid to fail.

Writer turned veterinarian turned writer, Ray’s life has gone full circle, and he’s loving every minute of it.

Ray’s book, “In a World of Small Truths,” is available on Amazon, at Press53.com, and at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital. Look for the release of his new book, “I Hear the Human Noise,” in September.


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