With the shovel from the shop and the Son of the Traveling Shovel of Death’s endorsement of her plan, Mia had a new spring in her step over the next couple of days, but she still had no way to find Chris Baty, which reduced that spring significantly. She wandered around Wrimonia in search of an eraser bench, settled down on one in front of the This Is Going Far Better Than I’d Hoped forum, and tapped away at her novel.
Mia was keeping up with her word count far better than in past years, a relief thanks to last year’s disaster. Despite being at fifteen thousand words on day ten, which was slightly behind to reach fifty thousand words, Mia was still optimistic on this front. She was, however, less optimistic about her other quests.
But that didn’t matter at the moment, as there was writing to be done. Mia cracked open her laptop and got to work on her novel. Just as she was getting into the good part of today’s writing, another Wrimo sat down next to her and took out their laptop. Mia looked up and saw none other than sushimustwrite.
“Hi Mia,” sushimustwrite said as she settled in with her laptop. “How’s the noveling going?”
“Surprisingly well,” Mia replied. “I’m not far behind, but I can catch up. This novel’s going awfully well for being about zombies.”
“See, I knew you could do it,” sushimustwrite said. “I believed in you from the very beginning, from when I decided to write a book about you.”
Mia changed the topic. “Any luck on finding out where Chris Baty is?”
“I haven’t looked much,” sushimustwrite said. “But in the end it won’t be up to me to find him.”
“What do you mean?” Mia turned to face sushimustwrite, as they had been facing their laptops and writing the entire time before this.
“I mean it’s up to you to find him. I can help, though I’m not sure how helpful I’ll be. But in the end you’re the one who has to take the plunge and find him.”
“What do you mean me? How do you know I’m the one who has to do this?”
“Because you’re the main character in this story.”
Mia already knew this, of course; she remembered sushimustwrite telling her oh so long ago that her novel was about Mia’s NaNo adventures. But being the main character and hearing as much from sushimustwrite’s mouth was another matter entirely. And this led to another thought…
“Wait a minute,” Mia said. “Am I real? I mean, I can deal with being a character in your book. I’ve been around for awhile and maybe you find me interesting enough to write a NaNo novel about. Neat. But am I more than a character? I mean, I feel real. I have a job and an education and friends and a life. But did you create that or did I?”
“Mia, are you familiar with the line ‘I think, therefore I exist’?” sushimustwrite asked.
“Of course I am,” Mia replied. “Everyone knows it.”
“Well, you’re capable of thought, aren’t you?” sushimustwrite asked. Mia nodded. “Then why does it matter that I created you as a character?”
Mia stared at sushimustwrite. She tried to figure out what to say next but got distracted by a duck running past them, quacking happily. Well, if a duck’s quack could sound happy.
“I like having free will, okay?” Mia exclaimed after the sound of the duck’s quacks were out of earshot. “I like being able to do something and knowing that it was my choice, not the choice of some grand puppetmaster in the sky pulling the strings. Even if that puppetmaster is my author.”
“But I’m not pulling the puppet strings,” sushimustwrite said. “Much, anyway. I try to let you have free reign. Leaves me with less stuff to come up with on my own.”
“You’re still my author. And since you’re my author you’re still involved in creating stories surrounding me, which involves some puppet action.” Mia paused. “I thought you loved me!”
“I do love you,” sushimustwrite said. “Well, as a character anyway.”
“But only as a character.”
“You’re my favorite character, though!” sushimustwrite protested. “I’ve never had as much fun writing a character as I have writing you. Your story is also my favorite of all my NaNo novels, and I’ve written a lot of them. You can’t just go out and say I don’t like you because I do! Why do you think I wrote a sequel starring you when I never write sequels?”
“But you know what authors do?” Mia asked. “We’re known for being mean to our characters. We tie them up, we put them in the worst situations possible and make them worse, then laugh gleefully as we watch our characters wiggle our way out of them. We make them fall in love, we break their hearts, we kill the people they love, and if we’re feeling particularly sinister, we kill them too, all for the love of creating. And now I know you’ve done the same thing to me, and you’d keep doing it. Well, I won’t take it anymore. I quit. You can find some other main character for your book, but I’m not going to be in your book anymore.”
“Wait a minute,” sushimustwrite said. “You can’t do that.”
“Why not?” Mia asked as she scooped up her laptop and stuffed it in her bag. “You just said you aren’t pulling the puppet strings much. Maybe I don’t want to be a character anymore. I quit.”
“But this time I’m exercising my powers as author, Internet, and god to say you can’t quit. So there.”
Mia grabbed her bag and walked away from sushimustwrite. She may be a character in a book, but that didn’t mean she had to accept this fate. It was time for Mia to choose her own fate now.
Now that Mia had freed herself from associating with sushimustwrite’s novel, she found herself wandering around Wrimonia with mixed feelings. On one hand, she now had free will to do whatever she wanted without worrying about her author’s whims. On the other hand, sushimustwrite was probably one of the best people to help her on the quest for Chris Baty, and Mia may have lost any goodwill she previously had with sushimustwrite.
Mia didn’t want to think about this, so instead she made her way to another eraser bench to write. She had her own story to write, and even though the characters had personalities of their own, they were not, to the best of her knowledge, writing books about writing books. Mia was safe on that front, right?
This was another favorite to write, and it’s one I’ve always wondered about once she met me. Fun fact: the time of month this happened in coincides well with the the time of month things started to get pretty crazy for me outside of novel-writing, so this probably really happened.
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