Well, it’s six days into the month, and I’ve been slaving away furiously at my NaNoWriMo project, The Storm. And I’ve learned something about myself as a writer. Writing fast does not make me write well. It’s good to have the exercise of producing something every day, and I’m going to stick to it, but half of what I’m writing, I can tell now, will get thrown away.
I had planned on posting what I was writing here, but I don’t want to show anybody this very rough first draft in its entirety. So I’m just going to post little snippets that I think will make the final cut. Here’s one:
ART ONE: Fall
A week before Hurricane Bernice, I was walking from the block The 24/7 is on to mine when I saw it. It was in the spot where the old bodega had been for ten years, years in which I’d gotten to know the owner, Abdul, and in which he’d always let me know when the cheap cigarettes, the oussies, had come in from out of state. Abdul had told me a while back that he’d be closing up, that he couldn’t afford the rent anymore, not now, not since the neighborhood had gotten a new name from the realtors that made it sound more like an extension of the nearby, more fashionable neighborhood. It was sink more money in to make it the kind of place that the new neighborhood residents who never knew to ask about oussies, or pack up and leave. And he’d packed up.
The it I saw that night was just another store on it’s surface. But I could tell, looking in, seeing the dim lights, seeing the woman who looked like she’d just come off some decorating magazine cover, looking dap even in her work clothes, that it was not just another bodega. I swear I saw that woman’s mouth form the word “artisanal” through the window. And I felt this feeling start to make my head feel squeezed together, like my brain was expanding and taking up too much space. In all the years I’d lived in this neighborhood, in all the times my family had helped organize block parties, in all the times my dad had volunteered to talk to kids in school about street violence as someone who barely got out of it alive himself, in all the time my mother cooked food for the old lady who lived down the hall who was living on a piddly-shit disability check, whose kids never came to see her, no one ever, ever, offered us a damn thing that could be called “artisanal.”
I reached into my bag then. And from all the things that slipped through my fingers, my keys, my wallet, my sunglasses, I grabbed one thing. A combination lock that I kept on my locker in the break room of The 24-7 and took home with me at night. The metal weighed heavy in my hand there inside my bag, but only for a moment before I whipped it up and back behind me, then over my shoulder and right through the dimly lit window.
The glass breaks and falls like bells. I hear the woman in her work clothes scream, and I run.