The Grumpy Californian

The Grumpy Californian

132nd Street and Seventh Avenue, New York City, (Central Harlem to be exact) this was my original “Gayve” (gay man cave). From my fifth floor apartment, with its iconic fire escape, I daydreamed, came up with stories, and people watched. Harlem contributed greatly to my artistic life. Like Billie Holliday, James Baldwin, and Langston Hughes, my soul was both enchanted and enriched by the historic Manhattan neighborhood. It shocked many when my fifth-floor walk up studio was traded for a track home in Riverside, Ca.

“Uh-oh, am I going to lose my creative streak?” I thought to myself.

As a professor in training, I lived a lived a surprisingly rich literary life. Taking classes from African-American to LGBT literature, academia exposed me to an even worldlier side of life. Reading novels became an important part of my new career. These novels influenced my writing. It improved it.

During long breaks in between semesters, my stories were written. Soon, I sent my stories to publishers. Every morning, there was a different rejection email. “Unfortunately” became my least favorite word. Every rejection email featured the word.

“Fuck this shit,” I thought to myself.

The rejection letters were a let down. Being published obviously validated one’s status as “legitimate writer.” For months, rejection letters soured mornings. Sometimes, they came in before dinner. Lovingly, these were referred to as appetizers. While strolling Downtown Riverside on a cardigan friendly afternoon, my phone buzzed. The email read as follows.

“Congratulations, we’ve decided to publish your short story, “Norman is Grumpy.”

Trying to hold back screams of elation, I practically pranced down Main Street in happiness. “Norman is Grumpy,” set in Harlem, followed the life of an eccentric Latinx teenager. It was a valentine to my old neighborhood, which still fueled inspiration. For months, I waited for the story’s release.  Three months later, Norman made his grand debut in the world. As a writer, I finally made it.

These days, I’m still struggling to have more stories published. However, if you want to read “Norman is Grumpy” here is the link. It’s starts on pg. 35.  It’s the 2018 edition, which is prominently featured.

https://class.uafs.edu/languages/azahares

 

 

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