Wrimonia became more crowded over the next few days, but it wasn’t crowded enough to crash Wrimonia like it did over the last few days. More and more lime green bars appeared over people’s heads as Mia struggled to write her own novel, and more and more halos appeared. She looked at the nearest sign to her. “You should be at forty thousand words today,” the sign said. “How far along are you?”
Mia looked at her own word count and sighed. Only thirty-one thousand? She wasn’t doing that badly, she thought to herself as she continued to write. It felt like a struggle. So much for this home stretch everyone was talking about. This wasn’t easy at all. She looked up at the sky, and the bright blue sky reflected what everyone else was thinking. Not a single cloud appeared in the sky as Mia looked back down at her laptop. She looked at the clock that told her how many days until NaNoWriMo ended, ticking down the seconds until November’s end. This freaked Mia out, and she looked away. But something else was there, too. A stack of books.
Mia walked toward Wrimo Hall, where this stack of books sat. Each of this books was a different color, and each succeeding book was a different color. The largest books, however, were gray. She touched the smallest book, which was yellow, and it floated out of the bookshelf and opened.
“Seventy-five thousand dollars,” the book spoke. “The staff work in a building with basic running water, electricity, computers, and Internet servers. Websites run on happy servers. 2009 postage and shipping costs are covered. Also, coffee!” Mia smiled and picked up the next book. The yellow book floated back to its position, and the new book, which was a pale orange, floated and opened. “One hundred fifty thousand dollars give you everything in the yellow book and more!” it said. “Landlords will rejoice here, for the primary NaNoWriMo staff positions are paid for the months leading up to NaNoWriMo.” Mia continued this for every other nongray book, and then picked up the gray books one at a time. “Four hundred fifty thousand dollars,” the book said in a more solemn voice. “Everything in the red book and more, including costs of designing and manufacturing products and paying for the NaNoWriMo director, Young Writers Program Director, Community Liaison, Tech Director, and Office of Letters and Light costs for the entire year.” She picked up each other book and read the contents, and after reading the gray book that said when all the year’s expenses would be paid for, Mia looked around Wrimonia. Wrimos passed her, laptops in hand. Most of them did not have halos.
Mia ran away from the books and to the nearest halo-free Wrimo. “Do you have a halo yet?” she asked the Wrimo.
“No,” the Wrimo replied. “Why should I?” Mia grabbed the Wrimo’s hand and without saying a word, led her to the books outside Wrimo Hall. The Wrimo stared. “What about it?” the Wrimo asked.
“Open those books,” Mia said.
The Wrimo started with the first one, just as Mia did, and continued through all the gray books. When she finished, she looked at Mia and said, “So why should I care?”
“Because this wonderful land is free for all of us to wander in and flounder in our own creativity,” Mia replied, wondering why the Wrimo didn’t get it. It only took her a few minutes to get it herself. She looked up at the Wrimo’s blue bar. This Wrimo was well on track to finish on time. “Look at your word count. You’ll probably get to 50k in the next few days and definitely by the 30th.”
The Wrimo nodded. “I was going to push to it tomorrow,” the Wrimo replied. “Half today, half tomorrow.”
“Then why not give back after you hit 50k?” Mia asked, and then she looked at the Wrimo’s badges. This person had finished NaNoWriMo three times before and still had no clue that NaNo cost money to operate. “NaNo helped you write a novel, four by the looks of your badges, and that deserves a little something back.”
The Wrimo looked down. “I don’t know if I can afford it,” she whispered. “I mean, halos are expensive, and I’m really poor right now.”
Mia didn’t know what to say to this. How did one donate without money? But before she could answer, a different halo vendor from before approached them yelling, “Halos! Getcher halos here!” Mia approached the halo vendor.
“You already have a halo, missy,” the vendor said. “I can give you another one, but we don’t usually double halo a Wrimo. Two halos look kinda silly, dontcha think?”
“No, I don’t want another halo,” Mia replied. “I was wondering if there was a way to donate without money.”
“Of course there is!” the vendor replied. He was also short and wore a long shirt with jeans and comfortable-looking shoes. “It involves not working on your novel for awhile, but there are great ways to help NaNo out. You ever hear of Goodsearch?” Both of them shook their heads. “You use it just like you use Google, and if you set the Office of Letters and Light as your charity, you can send money to NaNo. It’s brilliant, I tell you.” He smiled at them. “Of course, there’s also the option of letting someone else buy you a halo.”
Mia didn’t have much cash in her pocket, certainly not enough for another halo. The other Wrimo shook her head. “It’s okay,” she replied. “I can find someone to sponsor me.”
“All right,” the vendor said. “But come back when you do; I’ll have to attach that halo to your head myself. It ain’t easy, you know!” He wheeled his cart away from them.
The other Wrimo turned to Mia. “Looks like I’ll have to find out about this Goodsearch, won’t I?”
“It’s a good thing,” Mia said. “You can research your novel with it too. It’s a procrastination tool and a fundraising tool.” But before she could say anything else, the other Wrimo ran away in search of Goodsearch.
Mia looked around Wrimonia and saw something she had never seen before.
Purple bars. Not too many Wrimos had them yet, but the Wrimos who did were celebrating and throwing book-shaped confetti around.
“We did it!” they yelled to each other. “We won!” Other Wrimos were around them celebrating the accomplishments, some still with green bars, some still with blue. Mia ran toward the Wrimos with the purple bars and grabbed a bottle of champagne. A bottle of sparkling grape juice also appeared for the underage Wrimos.
“Congratulations!” she yelled.
“Shall we have a toast?” a Wrimo with a green bar asked.
“Sure,” Mia replied, and out of nowhere a champagne flute for each Wrimo appeared. Mia poured the drinks and noticed that she didn’t have the lowest word count there. She breathed a sigh of relief as the most veteran Wrimo, a Wrimo with a green bar and seven winner badges, said, “To the first members of the purple bar society. We can ask for no finer charter members of this year’s purple bar society.”
“Cheers,” everyone else said, raising their glasses in the air and taking a drink.
“Wait,” Mia whispered to the Wrimo who made the toast. “Why do they have purple bars and you don’t?”
“It’s still the twenty-fourth where I am,” the Wrimo replied. “I still have to wait until midnight, and believe me, I’m counting down the minutes. Sometimes I’d love to be on the other side of the world right now.”
Mia nodded, even though it wouldn’t matter if today were the twenty-fifth right now. She’d still be stuck with a blue bar. Finally she asked, “How’d you do it?” to everyone.
“How’d we do what?” Keladryie, a Wrimo with a purple bar, asked.
“How’d you get your purple bars so fast?” The Wrimos with word counts lower than Mia’s nodded their agreement with this question, and Mia noticed that some of the Wrimos with purple bars were new to NaNo. “Is there some secret that everyone should know?”
“I’ll tell you my secret, and you should promise that you tell everyone who asks,” Keladryie said. “Ready?” Everyone nodded. “Butt in chair, hands on keyboard.”
Mia stared. “That’s it?” she asked. “But I’ve been doing that, and nothing’s coming out. Don’t you have extra powerful muses or something?”
“Muses are nice,” Keladryie replied. “But they’re not around all the time. Sometimes you really do have to give them a kick in the butt when they need it, and sometimes you have to give yourself a kick in the butt when you need it. It’s all about sheer determination. Wishing you could write or just waiting for the muse won’t get an inch of writing done. You really just have to sit down and do it.”
Another Wrimo with a purple bar stepped in. “It’s all true,” Keladryie said. “Just sit down and write.”
“But I’m behind!” a Wrimo with fewer words than Mia exclaimed.
“That’s okay,” Keladryie said. “You can catch up. Some people have caught up from twenty-five thousand, twenty thousand, ten thousand, even zero words at this point. It’s all about your attitude.” Mia looked down at her laptop and saw that it was glowing from the light of her halo. The halo vendor knew his stuff. “Besides, you have a halo,” Keladryie said, pointing at her own halo. “That halo does give you good noveling karma. Now go out and use it.”
Giving to NaNo in 2009 wasn’t affordable to me, so I also made liberal use of Goodsearch, which you can use for organizations besides the Office of Letters and Light. I happen to use it year-round, but as luck and a little competition would have it, I wrote the most words on the first day in my region (20,012) and earned a halo that way.
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.