As Mia pushed the door open, she saw that even more novelists were typing furiously as midnight started in their area. Still more novelists had blue bars over their heads, signalling the start of NaNo in their time zone, and Mia wondered what would happen if she started typing before midnight. She opened her laptop and opened a new document, then started to type.
Except her keyboard wouldn’t type. All the keys were stuck in place. Mia tried typing the classic “Once upon a time”. Nothing. “It was a dark and stormy night.” Still nothing. Finally she tried typing another classic first line. “Call me Ishamel.” Nothing.
The laptop was not letting her start her novel. This was probably for the best, she thought as she looked at the clock. It still wasn’t midnight yet. At least she still had some time to kill before then, so she wandered around the square until reentering the NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul forum.
“I’m not ready!” a poster on one door read on the first floor. Mia pushed the door open and saw a gaggle of novelists sitting around a table, laptops in hand, blue bars over their heads, characters surrounding them.
“I can’t do this!” Mia exclaimed. “I won’t be able to do this either.”
“Won’t be able to do what?” one Wrimo asked. Mia looked at her name tag. Sarah-flute, the name tag read.
“I’m just not ready,” Mia said, approaching sarah-flute. “My plot isn’t cooperating, there’s a plot hole that you can drive a truck through, and I can’t help but feel as if my characters hate me right now.” She noticed that Sarah wasn’t alone. She was surrounded by characters and someone who appeared to be a muse.
“It’s okay,” sarah-flute replied. “I don’t feel ready for NaNo either, but we’re going to make it through. We’re going to make it through together.”
“But this is my first year!”
“We were all new once,” sarah-flute said. “I was new in 2007. Even Chris Baty was new in 1999 when he created this whole thing. You can do it.”
“And you can too,” Mia said, noticing that sarah-flute looked very calm for not being ready for NaNo.
Then Mia saw the door open, and several familiar figures entered the room. She gasped.
“You’re here!” Mia exclaimed. “See you,” she said to sarah-flute. “And thanks.” Mia ran to Alaina. “How’d you do it?”
“I didn’t do anything,” Alaina replied. “You did it.”
“What do you mean I did it?” Mia asked. “I didn’t do a thing.” Mia looked around the room, wondering if there was something special about it that made characters appear. It seemed that everyone else in the room, blue bar filling up or no, was accompanied by at least one character.
“You sought out the desire to write,” Alaina explained. “And we showed up for you.” She smiled at Mia. “Now come one. You’re not going to get a word of writing done if you keep hanging out in the forums. Trust me. I may be only your muse, but if it were up to me to write and not inspire people all the time, I’d be hanging out in the forums instead of writing.”
“I’m sure some people do,” Mia said to herself, not intending Alaina to hear, as she thought about all the Wrimos she saw running from forum to forum. She saw extremely high discussion and post counts on their info, and she wondered if they would get their novels done on time if they were hanging out on the forums so much. I have a life, Mia thought to herself. I don’t have time to hang out here all day.
“Let’s go,” Alaina said, pulling Mia out the door. Mia finally followed Alaina and the rest of the characters out the door and on the square.
It was excellent timing on their part because Mia looked at the clock. Eleven fifty. She had just ten minutes to get comfortable and in a good position to write. Luckily the document that she attempted to write in was still open, and just as before, it still had zero words in it. Mia stared at it and wondered what would be in it next time she saved it.
Mia looked from character to character to Alaina, wondering what they would tell her to write. Was this really what inspiration was all about, to have the characters actually speak to her? She had never experienced anything like this before. None of her writer friends had ever told her anything like this in their experiences.
But before Mia could ponder this any further, a clock struck. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Twelve, she counted.
“It’s midnight!” one Wrimo yelled as she ran across the square. “Go! Go write!”
It’s midnight! Mia thought. She looked at the document. I can write now. But what? Suddenly there were no words filling up her mind. What was she supposed to put on her document? Suddenly all the classic openings she had in mind sounded really lame by comparison of other grand opening lines she had read.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Mia recited. No, that’s too well-known. Besides, this isn’t the best or worst of times. “All happy families are alike; all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way.” But this has nothing to do with an unhappy family.
“How do I know that?” Mia asked her characters. “Were you an unhappy family?”
“That’s for you to find out,” Alaina replied.
“No, not you, Alaina,” Mia replied. “I’m talking to them.” She nodded to the characters.
“We were actually very happy,” Amy replied. “Dad played with me when I was a kid. He would take me to the park, draw with me, do whatever I wanted to do. Mom was the same way. I essentially grew up an only child. Ian was born just a few years ago, of course, and they tried to give him the same treatment, given that I had already pretty much moved out. Of course, Dad died just after Ian was born, but Mom tried her best to do so. It wasn’t her fault that– Oh god, what if it was her fault?” Amy looked down and toward the figure that was her mother. Mia had a feeling that Amy couldn’t see the woman, and she ignored the fact that Dad died years ago; maybe dead people live in a different spacetime continuum. Amy was very deep in thought. “What if it really was her fault?”
Ian started to cry. “Where’s my toy?” he asked.
“I don’t know, Ian,” Amy replied. “Where did you last see it?”
“I don’t know,” Ian replied. He started looking around in search of the toy, but there were no toys to be found in Wrimonia, at least in Mia’s little part of it. Mia looked around as well, though she assumed that if she found a toy, it would be of no use to Ian.
However, a plastic car sat right next to her, on the far side of Amy and Ian. Mia tried it anyway; she reached for the toy and handed it to Ian. He squealed in glee. “See?” Amy said. “What do you say, Ian?”
“Thank you,” Ian said, and with this, Mia placed her hands on the keyboard and began to write.
Mia’s eyes grew heavy over the next hour, and as she looked up from her keyboard, she noticed that Amy was no longer chasing Ian, but Ian was crying “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” and looking at Amy.
“No, I’m not your mommy,” Amy kept telling Ian.
“But why not?” Mia asked. She looked at her word count. Five hundred thirty words. Only five hundred thirty.
But I’ve been writing for an hour! she thought to herself as Amy tried to comfort Ian. “Hey, you two,” Mia said. “Cut it out. You’re supposed to be his sister.” She reached for a stick on the ground and poked Amy.
“I know that,” Amy replied. “But he doesn’t know that.”
Mia sighed. How was she going to break the news to them? She was supposed to be the writer here. “Look, you two,” Mia said. “I know your parents are dead, but can you two please get along and tell the story? I have eleven hundred thirty-seven more words to write before going to bed and I can’t write it with you two not doing anything, which you’ve been doing for the past hour!”
Amy and Ian looked at each other, completely unaware that they had been doing nothing to advance the plot whatsoever. “Forget it,” Mia said, shutting down the laptop. “I’m going to bed.” She tucked the laptop into her bag and felt the traveling shovel of death against the laptop. She shuddered, hoping that the laptop wouldn’t get any blood on it from the shovel, and then walked away from her characters and went to bed.
I really just wanted to write Dong twelve time. You knew it, didn’t you?
It’s now November in Wrimonia, and with that, Mia actually begins writing. This is where things get crazy. Just like the plots of many Wrimos, Mia’s plot will take some interesting and unexpected turns.
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