This building had no sticky doors at first glance (or if they were sticky, Mia would have to touch the doors to see if they were). Then Mia opened the first door she saw. “NaNo for the New and Insane”, she read aloud. She opened the door and saw a book on the table. No one else was around, though the room looked like it was occupied at some point in the past with the candy wrappers on the floor and stray laptop cords cluttering the floors.
Mia picked up the book and opened it. NaNo for the new and insane? Well, I’m new, she thought. And I guess… Am I insane? I’m just a writer. She picked up the book and started to read. As she read, she noticed the author’s name: Lazette Gifford. Mia had noticed a Zette flittering around while moving from forum to forum. Could they be the same person? She made herself comfortable in a pale blue armchair and started to read.
Within this book was so much advice, so much that she couldn’t even take in all of it at once. Quantity over quality? 50,000 words in thirty days? Not editing? And the worst part was that people had done it before, some (like Lazette Gifford) for years. Some had finished every year they tried and still came back for this craziness.
Mia should have thrown the book aside right then, but something compelled her to hold on to it. In fact, she was about to throw it aside right then, but then she noticed that another copy of the book had appeared on the table. Surely nobody would mind if one copy of the book were taken out of the room. Right? She looked around the room, making sure there were no hidden cameras in sight or that no one else was in the room. Then she stashed the book in her bag, making note to read the rest of it some other time, and finally pushed her way out of the room and into the rest of the forum.
This forum still hadn’t calmed down any more since the last time she entered. She looked around, paying special attention to the signs on the door like Limmenel had mentioned in the Realism forum. Unfortunately, some of the signs weren’t all that helpful. What was Help! supposed to mean? What about Is this easy? Mia stepped into the room with the latter on the door, as she wondered the same thing.
A blonde Wrimo with very long hair stood alone inside the room. Her hair was so long that it obscured her name tag. She ran toward Mia. “Oh good, I’ve been looking for you!” the blonde exclaimed, running toward Mia.
“Uh, hi?” Mia said. “Why were you looking for me? I don’t even know anyone here.”
“I was just wondering if you knew how hard NaNoWriMo is,” the blonde said. “I’ve never done this before.”
“I haven’t either,” Mia said. They sat on a couch inside the room. “I’m in no position to give you advice. How’d you find out about this, anyway?”
“The Internet,” the blonde said. “I was reading a blog one day, and someone mentioned NaNoWriMo, and I found myself here and I’m wondering what I got myself into.”
Mia nodded. She could relate to this person. “I’m wondering the same thing myself. Maybe someone else will come in here and tell us.”
They waited for a minute and looked around, neither one of them saying a word. Finally a very confident-looking Wrimo rushed into the room. “Hi,” she said. “There’s a more exciting thread on how hard NaNo is upstairs.” Mia looked at her name tag and noticed that it said Zette.
“Wait, are you Lazette Gifford?” Mia asked. She tried not to mention the book in case Zette was angry that the book was stolen.
Zette nodded. “Why yes, that would be me,” Zette replied. She looked down at her name tag, and this prompted Mia to do the same. Sure enough, below Zette’s username was her real name, along with a link to her website and other information. Mia looked at her own name tag. It was blank.
“Uh, I hope you don’t mind, Zette, but I kind of stole your book from the sticky room.”
“Oh, that was meant to be stolen,” Zette replied, wondering why Mia was apologizing. “I wrote that to help new NaNoers with their first NaNo experience.”
“Oh good,” Mia said, breathing a sigh of relief. She wasn’t busted.
“Now, to answer your question,” Zette began, addressing both of them, “NaNo is as hard as you make it. Some people fly through NaNo, yet others struggle. Some will write the daily sixteen hundred sixty-seven in an hour, but others will struggle over it for twice that long. It all depends on you.”
Mia looked at the other newbie as Zette kept talking about how her experiences with other NaNoers. Was it really going to take her this long? Could it really take her three hours every day to write just under two thousand words? She sighed. Maybe NaNo was too hard. The blonde was also looking down.
“I hope that helped,” Zette said. “I need to go put more copies of the book in the sticky room, but if you have any more questions, feel free to ask, and feel free to look around the forum.” She wandered off, stack of books in hand, and Mia and the blonde wandered out of the room. Mia kept wandering the first floor, while the blonde wandered out the door. She pushed past a knot of people who were exiting one very popular room, and Mia made her way into the next room.
Ack! The boards are dead! the sign read.
“The boards are definitely not dead,” Mia said to herself. “Look at this crowd! Whoever would think to say the boards are dead under circumstances like these? Unless their idea of dead is being squished under the pressure of the forums.” However, Mia was very curious, so she pushed open the door and entered the room.
A small group of people sat on couches, some drinking tea, a few sitting cross-legged on the floor. Mia thought she had seen one or two of these people in passing while running across the forum square, but there were so many people in this place that it would be a miracle if she recognized anyone. How would she be able to spot her friends if she made any around here?
“Hi, I’m new,” Mia said.
Everyone looked up. A young woman with short hair with the name tag LadyVivamus jumped up. Another woman, Momtoast according to her name tag, put down her piece of toast as she turned toward Mia. The door opened again, and two more Wrimos entered the room.
Before anyone said anything, Mia noticed something very strange that she had never seen before.
It looked like a dancing marshmallow. That was the best way she could describe it, anyway. It bounced around the room in circles, and if there were music playing, it definitely would be dancing to the music. Mia tried this and started humming the first song that popped in her head (R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”). It worked, though the song was a lot faster than the marshmallow. Maybe the marshmallow was dancing to half the beat.
“Oh, do we have a new person?” one of the new Wrimos to the room asked. Mia turned toward her and noticed that the new Wrimos to the room were named PsychosAsylum and BranduinS. BranduinS had applied a nametag below the NaNoWriMo-applied nametag that said “The NaNoer formerly known as Sailor.”
“She just wandered in,” LadyVivamus told PsychosAsylum and BranduinS. “Care to tell us about yourself?”
“Well, my name’s Mia,” Mia said. “And this is my first year of NaNo, and I’m surprised. The boards are definitely not dead. I had to push my way to get in here.”
“What?” Mia asked, slightly hurt and thinking that her statement was obvious.
“No, we’re not laughing at you,” LadyVivamus said. “This thread is an inside joke. It started during a time when the boards really were dead.”
“And by dead, we mean that no one was posting,” BranduinS added. “Ergo dead.”
Momtoast nodded. “Don’t be mad, Mia. We’re all really nice here. Join in.” She patted a pillow on the floor. Mia sat.
“What’s up with the dancing… is he a marshmallow?”
“Oh, that’s our mascot,” PsychosAsylum replied. “He’s been around for awhile, but we thought we lost him forever this year. Luckily Sushi rescued him. Don’t know how she did it, but here he is.”
“This thread just wouldn’t be right without him,” Momtoast added.
“I ran into Mr. Ian Woon earlier,” Mia said. “Is there anything else I should be worried about?”
“Watch out for the traveling shovel of death,” PsychosAsylum said. “It can be vicious.”
Mia made a note of that before leaving. Death? Yeah, she would definitely watch out for it.
Here we go! I’ll edit this to put in part two later because someone I would not have met sans NaNo is about to be on my doorstep. Right about now.
Feel free to link this on your blog, Twitter, whatever. Just don’t pass this off as your own, and we’re cool.
I highly encourage you to donate to the Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit organization that runs NaNoWriMo, if you enjoy this tale of noveling madness. If you donate in the new year, your donor goodies will appear in the month before the event you donate to (NaNoWriMo or Script Frenzy).
If for some strange reason you’re really into giving money to Internet strangers who write somewhat humorous things, I won’t complain. You can do that at the link below.