Yes, this is another NaNoWriMo post. :) Which I am supposed to post here (well, it is cross-posted, soooo) but this blog seemed to be abandoned now, and Mike has been demanding I make a new post…so here. ^^;
It has been six days since NaNoWriMo ended, and I’ve been feeling some kind of writing withdrawal syndrome. You know the feeling when you suddenly run out of things to do, when you’ve been in front of and burie deep in something big for the past month? And now it’s over, you don’t know what to do anymore? That kind of thing. It’s a relief to finally be free of work, but the missing feeling is there. It’s not that I could not write outside NaNo, but there’s this particular rush when you’re writing with more than a thousand authors all over the world.
This year’s NaNoWriMo is actually the hardest I’ve ever been in for the past four years. For some reason the words did not flow as easily, I feel like I lost my grammar skills. I know what I want to happen in my story and I planned my characters well, but they do not want to talk nor follow what the story is going to. It took a lot of effort to make my characters fight with each other. I jumped around the story a lot, making the not-so finished product very disjointed. Not only that, I had little knowledge with what I wrote, with little time to research, so everything feels fake, like I really don’t know what I’m talking about. The characters are not based on anyone I know, so it’s also a bit hard to form people out of them, unlike last year’s where I have a point character for every one in my novel. Yes, 2007 proved to be difficult even in the time of NaNo.
Of course, it’s a big learning process. I learned that in times like this, all I need to do is write. Write as much as I can, even if it did not make sense. I just need to put it down. Editing would be hell after, but that’s why there’s a certain time for it. What I need to do is to vomit out all the words, even if they’re redundant, if they feel awkward, if everything is cliche. Just write.
I finished writing to 50,000 words this year, but my novel is far from finished. I don’t know if I’ll ever touch it again. Maybe someday, when I feel like I could face Marianne and David (my main characters) again…but now it’s resting.
But before that…I am releasing my first and only excerpt for this year’s NaNoWriMo project, just because. Okay, fine, I’m releasing this because this will be a part of the Pinoy NaNoWriMo 2007 Anthology, which us Wrimos are coming out with for this year. :) This is a collection of NaNoWriMo 2007 novel excerpts from the talented PinoyWrimos, which is the first of its kind here. :) This is the only presentable excerpt I could get from my novel. ^^; It’s kind of long, and it’s semi-cheesy…so you’re excused if you don’t want to read it. :P
Excerpt starts after the cut!
Late Sunday night, David was waiting for the elevator on the ground floor of his condominium, eager to call it a day. He was in particularly good spirits as he had just heard Mass and had dinner with his parents, his sister and Fr. Raymond. The day’s Gospel was about the good Samaritan, and Fr. Raymond’s homily was about helping other people in need even if it is inconvenient, which he agreed with. After the mass, the De Gracia family ate dinner together with Fr. Raymond, and then their parents dropped the David and Paula off their respective condominiums before heading back to their house in Tagaytay.
The elevator doors opened and he stepped out, not checking the floor since he was the only one inside. He started walking to the direction of his room, still deep in thought.
The only cloud in his sky for that day was Marianne’s non-appearance from their practice. He thought they would be finally able to start practicing earlier that day. He was all ready to start playing their favorite songs and to hear if Marianne could sing it as well as April does, but he should have expected less of her. After all, she’s probably not as committed as Nathan says she was. And the fact that she outright lied to David when they were talking on the phone made him trust her less. He just hopes she would step up to her commitment to them on their next practices.
He stopped walking, pulled out his keys and was about to insert his key on the keyhole when he realized with a start that it wasn’t his unit. In fact, he wasn’t even on his floor.
“What the…” David said out loud. He was on the fifteenth floor, eight floors below his. “Major space out.” He said to himself with a laugh. He heard some noise coming from the other side of the door he was standing in front of and quickly stepped away before the owners of the unit think he’s a burglar.
“That was stupid,” he said, chuckling softly at himself. He turned and started making his way back to the elevator to get to his right floor, but before he could take another step though, he heard a noise coming from the other direction.
“Oh shit. No, no, no, please don’t tell me it’s wet!” A female voice exclaimed, followed by some kind of watery sounds, as if someone was walking through water. The voice sounded vaguely familiar, but David could not place where he heard it. He started to walk away but he heard more hurried footsteps, and an even more panicked exclamations by the same voice.
Good Samaritan, a gentle voice prodded in his head. He remembered the Gospel reading during the mass, and realized this may be God’s way to actually let him learn the message for the day.
David turned again and started walking to the direction of the sound. As he approached, he saw the unit beside the door he almost tried to open earlier was wide open, and the hallway in front of it was wet, as if someone had emptied a bucket — or two, even three — of water outside. His eyes followed the trail and he realized that the water was actually from a flood that came from inside the unit with the open door.
He took a peek inside the open unit and saw that it was just like his unit, only this one obviously belonged to a female because of the decorations and the handbag that was on top of the coffee table beside some plastic bags from Shopwise. The unit also had a small piano on the side, and David wondered briefly how the instrument was carried there. Sitting on top of the piano was a wooden box with its bottom slightly wet from the floodwater, which David guessed was just put there a minute earlier.
He saw that most of it was coming from the bathroom, whose door was also open. There was a telltale stream of water from a leaky faucet or shower, which must have been left open (or probably really broken) and caused the flood. The water had reached all the way to the bedroom, where David could hear the owner of the unit scrambling around, probably trying to save her possessions from getting wet.
Lord, I have totally zero knowledge in repairing pipes or banishing floods like this, but I can feel you making me help, so I will offer my help. Please help me. He prayed silently before taking another step forward. He was just about to knock on the door and call out to offer his help when the unit owner emerged from the bedroom, all sweaty and wet on different parts because of the floodwater. He stopped himself, shocked at the discovery.
It was indeed Marianne. She stood there barefoot but still wearing a “going out” outfit as if she had just came in from a gimmick, her pants wet around the leg area from running around the flooded unit. A laptop bag hung from her shoulder, and a plastic bag of clothes hung from each hand. She looked…well, like she needed help.
Why her, Lord?
“What are you doing here?” she asked, still standing on her spot.
“I…uh, got off the wrong floor,” David explained, feeling completely foolish. “I was about to go back when I heard someone noise from this direction and I wondered if there was a problem, and maybe I could help.”
They looked at each other for a moment, standing rooted on their places, until David said, “Uh…so….do you need any help?”
Marianne gave him a “What do you think, doofus?” look. However, she shook her head, and started walking with as much poise as she can towards the couch to drop her things. When she was almost there, her left foot slipped a bit, causing her to slightly lose her balance, which made the laptop bag slip slightly from her shoulder. She let out a little shriek.
Without thinking (and removing his shoes), David walked inside the unit all the way to where Marianne was standing, reached for Marianne’s arms to steady her. Then he reached for the laptop bag’s strap and put it back on her shoulder so it would not touch the wet floor. The entire thing happened so fast that it took David a while to realize that he was standing side by side with Marianne. He took a cautious step away from her.
“Uh…thank you.” Marianne said, not looking at David.
“Let me help you,” David said, taking one of the plastic bags from Marianne’s hands. This time, she gave it willingly. They walked carefully to the couch and dropped the things there.
“What happened here?” David dared to ask.
To his surprise, Marianne’s face colored. “I’d really like it if you won’t ask.”
“It’s embarrassing, actually,” Marianne continued. “I left the shower open last night.”
“All night?” David asked, incredulous.
“I didn’t sleep here last night, remember? That’s why I missed practice.”
“And I only got here a few minutes ago, because I had to go to the grocery after I met up with Nathan and Rex…and I found my condo like this,” Marianne finished with a helpless tone in her voice. “Wait, I have to get a bag and some more clothes from my room.” She started moving towards the bedroom.
“Do you need any help?” he asked again
Marianne stopped and looked at David, and he was once taken aback by her very unique eyes. They looked at each other for a while until Marianne said, “Yes, please.”
For the next three hours, David helped Marianne separate her things that got wet from the indoor flood from the untouched ones, put most of her shoes at the top of her closet, remove all the plugs of her appliances that were still plugged in the outlets and mop and dry off all the water in the unit. They did not speak much as they did the cleaning and arranging, and David did not mind because he really did not know what to say to her. When they were finished, they took a seat on one chair each away from each other in the small living room. It was almost midnight.
David watched Marianne at her seat, re-tying her long hair with her eyes closed. She looked very tired, as if she hasn’t slept a wink from last night.
“What do you plan to do now?” he found himself asking.
Marianne opened her eyes and looked at him, not saying a word.
“I mean, where are you going to stay?”
“Well…it’s kind of hard to stay here given we unplugged everything and turned the circuit breaker off,” David said. “You can’t turn it on again without making sure it’s okay to turn it on, otherwise it may start a fire.”
“Great. First a flood, now a fire,” Marianne said, defeated. “I guess I’ll go to my aunt’s place in Quiapo and stay there for a while.” She sighed.
“Quiapo? How will you go there?”
Marianne looked at David. “Um, I’ll get a cab?” she said with a hint of sarcasm. She stood up. “I better get some things ready.”
“That’s quite…far away. Don’t you have some friends who live close where you could sleep over with for a few nights?” David asked, his concern surprising him.
“No.” Marianne said it so simply that David knew immediately she was not joking.
He watched Marianne go into her room again and from his position, he could see her get a big overnight bag to put her things in. He couldn’t imagine her going to Quiapo on her own, especially at this time of the night so he decided to offer her a ride. As he stood up to tell her about it, a Bible verse flashed in his mind: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” He stopped.
Okay, Lord, are you saying what I think you’re saying?
Silence. The verse just stayed in his head.
But Lord! She’s a girl! She makes out with people in the elevator! Isn’t it bad and disrespectful and totally impure for me to offer my place to her?
Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.
David sighed, more to himself. He walked to the room and stopped at the doorway. Marianne was just about to zip her bag shut when she noticed him standing there. She looked up at him questioningly.
“Do you…want to stay at my place instead? Just for tonight? We can call the condo maintenance tomorrow morning so we can have your unit looked at…and you don’t have to go to your aunt’s place. It’s late, and going there on your own might be dangerous.”
Marianne looked at him for a while, considering his offer. To David’s surprise, a small and grateful smile flashed on Marianne’s face. “If it’s okay with you, then I’d like that.”
For the first time that night since he got to Marianne’s floor, David smiled.
If Marianne would be asked which would be the weirdest night of her life so far, it’s that night. Marianne felt utterly stupid for not checking her condominium unit before she left on Saturday night, so one could only imagine how many expletives she let out when she found she was walking through water. Her couch and bed were both wet, as they were two of the big furniture closest to the bathroom, and her music box — the box that contains most of her written music — was slightly wet as well.
And then David came. She did not know why or how he got there in the first place — the “I got off the wrong floor” excuse does not seem believable; if she had known better, she’d think he was stalking her. How did he even know she lives here anyway? When he offered his help, she really did not want to accept it. Not because she felt she did not need help but because of her non-appearance to the practice earlier. She did not deserve his help after that. Maybe after she shows up for a practice and that practice was successful, she’ll deserve it.
But she was grateful for his being there because if he weren’t, she would not be able to finish cleaning up that night at all. And him offering his place for her to stay for the night is definitely better than trekking all the way to Quiapo at this time of the night. Even if she deserved to go all the way there because of her earlier blunders, she was thankful for this. Even if he may be stalking her…but right at the moment, she did not care. She was just happy she would not have to spend a night at her aunts’ place.
She finished locking her door and turned around to follow David. He was leaning against the other wall, his eyes looking really sleepy, but when she turned to face him, he stood up again and extended his hand. Marianne looked at it strangely.
“Uh, your bag? I’ll help you carry it.” He said.
Did Victor ever offer to carry any of her bags, even her laptop bag? Never. The gesture was weird; archaic, even.
“No thanks, I can carry them.” She said, hugging her bags closer to herself. David looked at her for a moment then shrugged. He started walking to the elevators, Marianne following in his footsteps.
When they got there, Marianne immediately pushed the down button but to her surprise, David pushed the up button. She looked at him, eyebrow raised.
“I live here too,” David said. There was a questioning tone in his voice, as if saying, “Don’t you remember?” Marianne just nodded slowly. So his excuse on how he got to her floor was actually true.
The elevator arrived and the two of them stepped inside. As force of habit, she immediately went to the back area of the elevator. David stayed by the buttons, pushed the twenty-third floor, and then closed the doors.
Suddenly, a major déjà vu. This had happened before, the two of them in the elevator, with him at the buttons and her at the back. She watched him through his reflection and his eyes were closed. It was all eerily familiar, and Marianne could not place where or when or why.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened. She followed David silently through the hallway and down to his unit. They stopped at almost the exact same place where Marianne’s unit was a few floors below, which confirms the fact that what David said earlier was really true. David unlocked and opened the door, then stepped aside to let her enter first before going inside himself.
Inside, Marianne marveled at the masculinity of the unit. The condo was mostly dark blues, light blues, whites and blacks — definitely something of the rich people kind. There were lamps everywhere, a complete entertainment system, books and photos on the shelves and on the wall, and a guitar lay on the side of the entertainment system. There was a mini dining table on the kitchen and dining area, and there was also enough cookware on the shelves for a small family. Everything looked neat and simple and calm, very much unlike Victor’s place where everything seems to be so bright and burning and messy.
David closed the door and walked past Marianne to turned the lights and the air conditioning on. He stood there for a while and then said, “We don’t sleep in the same room, all right?”
Marianne raised an eyebrow at his statement. “As if I’d want to sleep in the same room as you. I’m fine on the couch.”
David proceeded into the bedroom and closed the door behind him. Marianne looked at the closed door for a while, annoyed but then she sighed and sat down on the couch. She was just about to open her bag to get her sleep things when David went out the bedroom door again, shaking his head.
“What was I thinking? You get the bedroom, I’ll sleep on the couch.” He declared.
“You’re the guest, and you’re a woman, you should sleep on a bed, not on a couch,” David repeated. Before Marianne could protest, David had taken her things and carried it into his bedroom. “Let me just get some clothes and I’ll leave you there. Or do you want to use the bathroom first?”
Marianne was so dumbfounded that she found herself being ushered into the bedroom before she could say anything. David got his stuff and rushed to the bathroom, then went out again and told her she could use it. Then he disappeared into the kitchen again before she can say anything else.
“What just happened?” She muttered to herself, walking to the bathroom.
A few minutes later, Marianne got out of the bathroom dressed in her pajamas and done with all her nightly rituals. She saw David was already lying down on the couch, eyes closed. She looked at his sleeping figure for a while, and found herself smiling once again for a reason she could not point out. She noticed the living room lights were still on so she walked to the switch to turn it off before heading into the bedroom.
As she was about to close the door, she heard David say, “Good night, Marianne. Rest well.”
Her smile grew wider and she found herself replying before she could stop herself, “Good night.”