Amy and Ian didn’t stay that willing to be written about for long, though. Mia stayed on target through days five and six, even hitting the recommended ten thousand words on day six and immediately shouting this out to anyone who could hear her. After all, she hadn’t written anything longer than 10,000 words in her life, so to write that in six days was nothing short of amazing to her.
The Wrimos were nothing less than supportive of this, too, and they cheered her (and she cheered others on) as she sailed past the seven-day goal.
Then Week Two arrived. Mia knew something was wrong as she opened her laptop. The sun wasn’t peeking through the clouds of Wrimonia as it usually did, fewer writers than usual were sitting on the square tapping away on their laptops, and more characters than usual were bickering and putting up a fight.
“No, I don’t want to play today,” Mia overheard one character, an old man with a white beard, a t-shirt that read “Will fish for food”, and ripped jeans, say. He sounded like a teenager by the way his voice cracked, but Mia seriously doubted that he was a teenager. “You played with me yesterday. Make him do tricks instead.” The man pointed to another character, a much younger boy who looked just like the old man and was wearing a similar outfit but was actually a teenager.
“But you played with me the day before,” the teenager said. “Come on, I need a break. Let me go play with my friends.”
“Grrr,” the Wrimo said. She stared at her laptop and finally threw it aside, walking over to her characters. Mia watched in fascination. The longer she watched, after all, the longer she didn’t have to write. “You are not cooperating with me!” she yelled at them.
“Well, fine then, write about me,” the teenager said. “But I’m just going to sit on the corner and smoke some weed with my buddies.”
“So that explains the eyes,” the Wrimo said.
“Yeah, something like that.” The teenager reached into his pocket and fingered something; Mia didn’t know what. Then–
The same voice that Mia heard at the end of the first day filled the square again.
“Welcome to Week Two,” the voice said. “You can feel it now. Darker skies than last week provided. Less cooperative characters. Maybe your word count is sagging. But I’m here to tell you that you can do it. Maybe your characters aren’t cooperating because you’re making them do something that they just don’t want to do.” Mia listened, setting her laptop aside and rejoicing at yet another form of procrastination. “Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you not to do things? Maybe you still live with your parents. There are things they just don’t want you to do. Don’t touch a hot stove. Don’t stay out too late. Don’t talk to strangers. Your characters are doing the exact same thing. It’s a societal code.
“This week I want you to break that code with your characters.”
Several Wrimos gasped, and the same car that Mia saw last week entered the square. Chris Baty was sitting in it again, and Mia noticed that he was wearing a paper crown on his head much like those you receive at a fast food restaurant. “Let them run free,” he said. “You’re forcing them to do things against their will because it’s what you want them to do. But sometimes that just doesn’t work. Sometimes when we’re creating messy works of art in such short periods of time, we have to let our inner editors free and let our characters take over. This week, I encourage you to do that.
“And let me tell you something, I’m behind right now. If you’re on track, you’re doing much better than I am right now. Now go forth and write!” Everyone cheered, and a couple of Wrimos ran toward the car, which was still guarded by the running men with the pencils. Mia wondered if they were doing NaNoWriMo, too.
“Why are you running men?” the Wrimo yelled. “You need female representation, too!”
Mia wondered who this Wrimo was and why they were interrupting Chris Baty’s pep talk. The running men, or at least the running man in the front of the crew, did as well, as he stared at the Wrimo and said, “There is female representation, in fact. Look.” And Mia finally took a closer look at what she thought was the running men. Sure, all the running pencil holders were short-haired, but their hairstyles were all different. She stepped even closer and saw that the pencil men were not all men at all. In fact, the running pencil man at the front (and Mia saw that this one was a man) pointed out the females in the crew of marathon runners with pencils.
“See, it’s an exact fifty-fifty split.” the man in the front said, pointing the pencil at the dissenting Wrimo. “Now back to your novel, young Wrimo, and I don’t want to hear another word of this.” The Wrimo sulked and returned to their laptop.
Mia watched as Chris Baty and the battalion of marathon runners with pencils (she could no longer call them running pencil men, as of course, they were no longer running pencil men) rode past her and into another part of the square. Now, she thought. Back to writing. She stared at her laptop and poked at the keyboard, but nothing came.
“Hey, Amy?” Mia yelled. “Ian? Where are you? You can come out now.” But they didn’t come out. Several other Wrimos were also yelling for their characters.
“Miracle?” “Natalie?” “Fennel?” One Wrimo was running around the square, hands over her head, yelling, “Where are you? I’ve lost my darlings and they won’t come to me! I should just quit and start over!”
“No, don’t start over,” the Wrimo yelling for Fennel said, approaching her. Mia saw that her name tag read thegrumples. “You have it in you to keep going.”
“But they’re not cooperating,” the Wrimo with the hands over her head said. Her name tag read Ariaste. “I loved my idea in October, and it had characters who were totally gay for each other, but now it’s the worst thing ever.” She stared at her laptop, wondering if anything would come out of it.
Thegrumples looked back at Ariaste, and Mia walked over to them. “Look, you don’t have to start over,” thegrumples said. “You’ve done NaNo longer than I have, and you’ve probably seen what happens when people put aside stories to start over. You experience the same thing.”
“Wait, I have it!” Ariaste exclaimed. “It’s a fantasy trope making fun of every single bad fantasy story you’ve ever read.” And with that, Ariaste ran off, laptop under her arm, to start her new story.
Week Two has begun. Will Mia keep up her daily 1667 words? Who are these marathon runners with pencils? (And yes, I may or may not have poked fun at certain Wrimos for that.) Stay tuned!
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.