Mia typed away at her novel, wondering what would happen next as Amy and Coffee Shop Boy (Mia had decided that Coffee Shop Boy’s name was Keith) got to know each other. Amy started coming to the coffee shop more often, actually pretending to like coffee as she laughed at his puns and even complimented his big leather jacket.
“Amy, you hate coffee,” Brenda said one day as she poured Amy a refill.
“Doesn’t matter right now,” Amy replied. “Just cut it with a ton of milk and sugar. Whole milk, if you will.”
“As your best friend and your barista, I suppose I’m obligated to do this,” Brenda said. “But someday I’ll have to be your bartender too.” Brenda poured another cup for Amy and mixed it as promised.
Mia knew that look in Amy’s eyes. It was the look of admiration, the look of infatuation. “No!” Mia yelled. “You’re not supposed to fall in love with him! You have Cole to try to lure back to you.” Mia stared at them as Amy smiled and asked Keith about his work. Keith was perfectly happy to talk about it, and Amy was glad that meetings with artists were part of her job description and could be explained away if the need arose. Not a believable one, Mia thought to herself, but what the hell. She hit the word count button while trying to think of a plausible explanation that wouldn’t involve Amy’s job.
“Twenty-five thousand, four hundred seventy-seven words,” the laptop said to her. Mia let that sink in. Twenty-five thousand. Halfway. She wasn’t there yet, but she was getting there.
“Woohoo!” she yelled, jumping in the air. Amy, Keith, and Brenda stared at her for several minutes, and if Ian were there and not at the daycare, he would have stared as well. Mia punched the air with a first. “I did it! I did it! Halfway there!” She grabbed her laptop. “Come on, guys,” Mia said. “Let’s go celebrate this in the Shoutouts forum.” Mia ran over to the Shoutouts forum and looked for a thread that said 25k. Sure enough, quite a few people were milling in this forum, and Mia burst in.
“I did it!” She yelled. “It took twenty days, but I’m there!”
Everyone else yelled out for her. “Hooray!” “Congratulations!” “Huzzah!” “To thirty thousand!” As Mia ran out the door, several other Wrimos who were also a bit behind in word count also entered and shouted out their accomplishment of reaching the halfway point.
This called for a break, Mia told herself, and she ran to another forum that she had never seen before. Writing Groups and Clubs, the plaque next to the door said. Actually, she had seen this forum before, and the memory stood out in her mind now. This was where she had seen the trebuchet club, and sure enough, they were still there, the trebuchets fully built, some of them still flinging urinal cakes, others being painted a shade of bright purple.
“Hello,” the Wrimo with the purple trebuchet said. “Would you like to join the trebuchet club?”
“You already tried to recruit me,” Mia replied. “Remember? Back in October, when I saw you flinging urinal cakes?”
The Wrimo with the purple trebuchet stared blankly. Then Mia realized that this Wrimo was new to the Trebuchet Club.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he replied. “I wasn’t here then. But you’re still welcome to join. Does your story need an object that can fling things long distances?”
“Not really,” Mia replied.
“Well, take a trebuchet anyway!” The Wrimo with the purple trebuchet pushed it toward her.
“I don’t think it’ll fit,” Mia said, looking from the purple trebuchet to her bag. The pencil and the traveling shovel of death tested the abilities of this bag, but there was no way in hell a trebuchet would fit.
“Look, I’m taking a break from writing, and I really don’t think a trebuchet would be–”
“What are you writing about?” the Wrimo asked.
“A art history major who works in an art gallery.”
“Then make one of the exhibits a trebuchet. Easy.”
“I’ll think about it,” Mia said, running away from them and toward the door. She didn’t want to get away from them that badly, but there just was no room in the novel for a trebuchet. I’m still writing serious literature, she told herself as she looked around the forum. There was a reminder in the sticky thread to save local groups for the regional lounges, but after that Mia walked down the hall. One room, the Coffee House, looked particularly intriguing. She pushed the door open and entered.
The first thing Mia noticed was the smell. The smell of coffee filled the air, and it smelled just like she imagined Brenda’s coffee shop to smell. (What was its name again? Mia found herself wondering, and then she wondered if she was a bad author for having forgotten this.) The coffee was heavenly: beans and drinks of all roasts and scents all mixing together to create a smell that was pleasant but not too strong. There were couches scattered around this room and tables with coffeepots, coffee mugs of all shapes and colors (including a bright red mug that said Noveling Fuel across it), and whole milk, sugar, cream, sugar substitutes, whipped cream, hot chocolate, tea, and every other hot drink imaginable on the table. Mia walked slowly toward the table, wondering if she could get something to drink. She hadn’t had any caffeine today, and she was getting rather tired.
“Hi, welcome to the Coffee House,” a Wrimo with a stack of papers in her arms said. Her name tag read October Rose.
“Hi,” Mia said. “Can I have some?”
“Sure,” October Rose replied. “It’s there for anyone to take. Help yourself. We even have cakes, muffins, breads, bagels, and other comfort foods at the other table.” October Rose pointed toward another table that Mia didn’t notice, where snack foods sat on plates. Mia poured herself a cup of coffee and mixed some milk and sugar into it, tasted it, then added more milk. She settled down on a couch with her laptop and looked around the room.
Several other Wrimos were sitting on the couches, some working on their novels, others sitting and chatting. Mia noticed that one Wrimo didn’t have a laptop at all but a notebook and pen. Was she actually handwriting her novel? Mia thought. She looked down at her own wrist and tried to imagine the state of her hands after handwriting fifty thousand words. Not a very good idea, Mia thought, and she decided to stick to typing.
The handwriting Wrimo took out her notebook opened it, then scratched down a few more words. “How’s NaNo going for you?” October Rose asked the handwriting Wrimo.
“It’s going well,” the handwriting Wrimo replied, and Mia could see that her name tag read Lady Lunas. Next to her sat Independence1776, and they had been chatting while Mia grabbed her coffee. “I think I need a drink, though.” Lady Lunas approached the counter and helped herself to a caffeinated beverage and grabbed a muffin before sitting back down.
“What kind of muffin is that, anyway?” Tolkienite asked, looking up from the laptop.
“Lime raspberry,” Lady Lunas replied. “It was one of last year’s specialties.”
Mia looked up from her laptop as well. “Lime raspberry?” she asked. “What exactly does that taste like?”
“There are plenty of them,” October Rose said. “Go ahead and try some for yourself.” October Rose grinned as she started going through a stack of papers that didn’t look like a NaNoWriMo novel. A laptop sat next to her, but Mia noticed that October Rose wasn’t messing with it.
“How’s the grading going?” a Wrimo named lauragoodin asked.
“It’s okay,” October Rose replied. “It’s just really eating into my writing time.” She sighed and got back to work, then got back up to grab a muffin. Mia finally got back up and approached the counter.
“Uh,” Mia asked, looking at the assortment of baked goods. “Which one of the muffins are the lime raspberry ones?” But before anyone could answer, signs appeared, and the lime raspberry ones were labeled. They weren’t the ones Mia expected them to be. They looked just like regular muffins, except there were raspberry chunks in them, and not a hint of lime could be found by visual inspection. Mia grabbed one and refilled her coffee cup, and then bit into one of these. It would be the healthiest thing she had eaten while writing since the carob bar she ate the day before, and even that was a stretch to call healthy.
Mia chewed the muffin. The lime tasted really strong, but somewhere in there was the taste of raspberry. The taste was oddly addicting, and she grabbed another one, refilling the rest of her coffee cup in the process.
“So what exactly is this place?” Mia asked.
“It’s a coffee house,” Tolkienite replied. “It’s just a place for us to relax and chat.”
“So it’s not a place for me to work on my novel?” Mia asked, looking at her manuscript.
“You can do that if you want,” Independence1776 replied. “We’re not going to kick you out, don’t worry. Some people come here just to work on their novels.”
“I could do that,” Mia replied. “I really just need the coffee shop atmosphere for my novel right now, though.” She told them about her current plot and the interactions between Amy and Keith. “Naturally, a coffee house built right into the forums was a great idea.”
“Well, feel free to stay,” October Rose replied. “We like when people come here. It gets so quiet during the non-NaNo season.”
The door opened, and Mia looked up. Brenda stood at the door, along with Amy and Keith. October Rose walked up to them. “Why have my characters never come here?” Tolkienite asked.
“I don’t know,” Lady Lunas replied. “I thought everyone’s characters could come in through that door. All I know is that inner editors aren’t allowed.”
Mia jumped in her seat, not bothering to greet her characters. “Wait, you said inner editors aren’t allowed?”
Independence1776 shook her head. “Nope, they get locked in the closet,” Independence1776 replied, pointing to a steel door. Mia could hear banging from the other side.
“What is that?” she asked.
“That’s my inner editor,” Lady Lunas replied casually. “It was being insistent that this passage be right earlier. Handwriting can do that to you.”
Mia looked back at the closet. “I may have to come back,” she said. Then she turned back to her characters. “Let’s go.”
Poor Mia. She’s still in denial about her plot, isn’t she?
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.