But the guilt still floated over her. Why? Mia thought to herself as she walked around Wrimonia in search of a place to confess her writerly sins. All I wanted was a way to increase my word count, and I resorted to that random thing that appeared in my novel. Those… busty lesbian cabbage pirate ninjas or whatever they were. They weren’t supposed to show up. I should just delete that entire scene right now and be done with it.
She looked at the scene in her novel. That was the only thing she wrote the day before, and it did give her two thousand words. That was an awful lot to lose, especially when she was behind. But I’m getting back on track, she told herself. I can make that back up again.
Or can I? Am I really just going to write random crap like this into my novel and never be able to catch up with a quality plot? Will I never be able to write a good book?
The words echoed in her mind. No one writes a perfect first draft. The first draft of everything is shit. Don’t worry. Just get it written. All sage advice she had heard in the forums, but somehow she had convinced herself that her work was different. Of course her work would be different. She had spent so much time on it cultivating it. Well, not so much time, Mia told herself. I only found out about this a week before NaNo began. You can’t cultivate a novel in a week.
She passed a trash can. A sign sat next to the trash can. DO NOT THROW OUT YOUR NOVEL HERE, the sign said. Mia sighed and wondered what would happen if she did chuck her novel in the bin. She looked at her laptop. She peered into the trash can and was somehow severely disappointed to see only the typical contents of a trash can inside. No discarded novels but she had to try.
Still, she had to try. She dug through her bag for her flash drive and threw it in the trash can.
The trash can threw it back up, tossing the flash drive back in Mia’s hand. She stared at it, then looked at the unassuming trash can. “You will accept it!” Mia yelled. “I quit this novel! I’ll start over if I have to, but I can’t accept this pure crap in my work.” She tried throwing the flash drive in the trash can again, and the trash can spit it out again.
Before Mia could try to trash her novel again, a short man pushing a cart bumped into her. Mia didn’t notice the man at first; in fact, the glow of the cart was the first thing that caught her eye.
“Hello,” the man said in a calm voice. “Would you like to buy a halo?”
Mia examined the halos in the cart. They came in all shades of yellow, and some of them had inscriptions on them. She also couldn’t help but notice that some of them were slightly brighter than others, but not so bright that one was a dull shade of yellow and one was an obnoxious shade of neon yellow.
“What are they for?” Mia asked. “I’ve seen a bunch of people in Wrimonia wandering around with these things on their head, but no one had told me what they’re for.”
“Oh, then you’re in for a treat,” the man replied. “You know this magical land you’re in right now?” Mia nodded, looking down at the flash drive that refused to go in the trash can. “It doesn’t come for free. Every year thousands of aspiring novels and even a few professionals come here in the quest of writing a novel in a month. They come from all walks of life, some just discovering the love of writing that burns inside them, some knowing that they wanted to be a writer ever since discovering that people actually wrote those books that they love so much. But this land doesn’t come for free.” Mia looked around Wrimonia. The trees were especially green today, and bright blue birds flew off the trees and toward a group of Wrimos working on their novels under the tree. She turned back to the man.
“So how much does it cost to run this land, anyway?” Mia asked. It wasn’t until she closed her mouth that she realized that her question may have been a rude one to ask. But instead of calling her out on that, the man handed her a sheet of paper. Mia examined it and noticed the very large number on the bottom. “We have to maintain the forums, pay for everyone to stay here, pay for the people who maintain the place, pay for the robots, pay for lots and lots of things!” the man said, throwing his hands in the air. “It’s all very expensive. Will you please help?”
“I don’t have that much–”
“Nonsense,” the man said. “You can still help. Look in this cart.” The man pushed the cart toward Mia, and she peered back inside it.
“Halos?” Mia asked. “I’m supposed to buy a halo?”
“Of course,” the man replied. “Halos are very easy to make for an expert like me, and in return for your supporting NaNoWriMo and Wrimonia, you get your very own halo affixed to your head just like the other Wrimos you’ve seen wandering around Wrimonia.” The man lowered his voice. “You also get excellent noveling karma.”
“Excellent noveling karma?” Mia asked.
“I saw what you did earlier,” the man said. “You were trying to quit, weren’t you?”
Mia looked at him. How did he know? “Of course not,” she lied. “Why would I want to do something like that? My name is Mia Wonnor, and I do not quit what I start.” She ignored the nagging voice in the back of her head that told her all the things she had quit before, like knitting and crochet and tennis team in high school. “I would never quit anything.”
“Then consider supporting NaNoWriMo and buying a halo,” the man said. “The noveling karma should be well worth it. Tell me, what’s your word count right now?”
“Twenty-nine thousand,” Mia admitted. The man didn’t say anything. “Yeah, I know, I’m way behind.”
“Oh, but this halo has magical powers!” the man said, holding up a halo out of the cart. Mia noticed the inscription in the inside of the halo. “Cherished friends,” the halo read. “It’ll enable you to write at a much quicker rate than you were able to before. You can also buy this halo–” The man held up a halo that said “Beloved Partner”. “–And you can write even faster. You can write faster and faster depending on which halo you buy.”
“But I don’t have that much money,” Mia said. “I’m not a doctor or lawyer or anything like that. I just got out of school, and I’m not rich.”
“That’s okay too,” the man said. “The noveling karma provided in these halos should be plenty for you.” He held up a Cherished Friend halo. “So what do you say? Would you like a Cherished Friend halo?”
Mia pulled out her wallet and counted her cash. “How much are these things, anyway?” The man pointed to the price chart attached to his cart. A Cherished Friend halo was ten dollars. She could afford that. That was a week of Starbucks. She handed him a ten dollar bill.
The man beamed. “Thank you so very much!” he said, his face glowing from his smile. Then he reached into the back of his cart and pulled out a step stool. “Now would you like this halo attached to your head at this time, or would you like to return to me to affix it to you? You receive maximum noveling karma when it’s attached to your head.”
“I’ll go ahead and get it attached now,” Mia said. “I need all the noveling karma I can get.”
The man nodded in understanding. “Okay, stay still for a few minutes.” He grabbed a bag out of the same compartment he had grabbed his stool from and set the stool down in front of Mia. He stood on the stool and held the halo above Mia’s head. “Now, it’s really important that you stay still right now,” the man said. “This is the most important part.” The man grabbed a small thing that resembled a gun from his bag and pushed a button. It whirred, and the halo settled down on Mia’s head above her blue bar. She felt it settle on her head as if it were actually resting on her head.
“Do you feel it?” the man asked.
“Yes,” Mia replied, not sure if she were allowed to move yet.
“Okay, let me climb down and look at it.” The man climbed down from his stool and looked up at her. He walked around her and returned to the front. “Okay, you’re good to go. The halo looks great on you. Have a good day, and thank you for supporting NaNoWriMo!” Mia smiled and waved at him as he walked away, pushing the cart and whistling.
“Halos! Getcher halos here!” the man yelled. Mia walked away, reaching up and touching the spot on her head where something felt like it was resting. But no, the halo was actually resting above the blue bar. It was an odd feeling. She passed the man with the halo cart again.
“Can’t I just give you money and not get a halo?” the Wrimo asked. “I don’t want anything on my head. The blue bar is heavy enough when I’m behind.”
“We can arrange that,” the man replied. “Let me just record you as having donated.” He found his clipboard and wrote down the Wrimo’s username, thanking her for the donation and then pushing the cart away. “Halos! Getcher halos here!”
Mia looked up at her own halo. She could feel the halo resting on her head, and it took her a few minutes to realize that the halo was in fact not really on her head but floating above her blue bar. But now, with the halo above her, a soft light glowed on her. The short man was right. The noveling karma was coming already.
“I can’t quit,” Mia said aloud. She passed the other vendor, whose word count rose as the counts of the Wrimos at the stand fell. Mia stopped to watch, now glad that she didn’t take the other vendor’s formula, and then walked toward an eraser bench. “I’ve put far too much into this already, and the halo just serves as a reminder of that.” With one final look at the halo, Mia sat down and resumed writing, hoping to make up for lost time.
Mia has donated to NaNo. Have you?
This entry is being posted in a packing frenzy. I’m putting things off even more than usual, as I’m packing everything in a single day. This makes things very exciting.
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.