After gallons of sweet ice-tea at very late hours for almost a full month a new novel has been born. It is still gooey and squishy and has much growing to do before it is fully readable. The editing of a novel is a different kind of fun. There is much of that to come, believe you me. Thanks to the international momentum provided by thousands of crazies writing, writing, writing and writing some more as part of NaNoWriM0 I can say that I have been officially named a winner. Yeah! All who write 50,000 words or more and register them for verification before midnight in their time zone on November 30 also bear this prestigious title.
Without further ado the opening paragraphs of my very rough draft of “Seven Streets”:
When begged for, mercy trickles in. Extend mercy instead of judgment and you will know that to be unfair is the only righteous act.
In the center of the Bolivian savannah lies the industrial hub called Santa Cruz. The cruceños are a brazen bunch. Skin the color of their morning café con leche and hair the color of the sky when they take their evening meal late, under the stars, when the sun has taken a break in its relentless beating and a bit of cool breeze allows them to eat in peace and converse before closing their eyes.
Every city, town and pueblo of this polemic nation has three things: a plaza, a catholic church and a market. If it is not a market then it is a shop called a tienda. If your people are not at home or work or school they will most likely be found at one of these landmarks. The plaza is for relaxing. The church is for religious tradition. The market is for your daily bread.
Markets of all shapes and sizes are scattered about the great sprawling reaches of Santa Cruz, the Holy Cross. Criss-crossing lives intersect in these places of commerce. I have a shop in a market called Siete Calles, Seven Streets. I am not as young as I used to be. If I were to tell you about my little shop you would find suddenly that it is time for the midday siesta. No, you would much rather hear of a young shop keeper just a few spots down from me. The tarp over her flower stand is blazing red. It suits her soul. Her name is Noelia.
At just ten years old she thought she was running things. There is an overturned paint bucket, emptied long ago, that sits right beside the sunflowers. Her mama used to make her sit there and watch how to bind up bunches of roses without too many pricks on her hands, and count back change, and pick just the right cala lilies for the Señora Marta. That plastic paint bucket sits vacant most of the time now and Noelia keeps herself busy selling and sorting and plucking and sweeping and watering and just doing her darnedest to run the stand. If her mama had enough energy I am sure she would be proud and shower her busy bee with praise. She’s got her hands full filling in at the vegetable stand while Noelia’s aunt is out sick. Not to mention the brothers and sisters who come before and after the spry Noelia. The kind of encouragement that an attentive mother could give is not even anticipated by this hard working girl. She does the work she’s been told to do because she knows this is what puts food in their bellies. That is drive enough to keep her out with the flowers day in and day out.
The things I have told you so far anyone would be able to observe with a glance at her lanky girlish figure. They would not be able to tell you her passions and dreams though. We talk, she and I. She tells me what she sees.