“Sushi!” someone exclaimed. Mia turned to this person, someone with a nametag that read rswinehart3.
“Lillian!” sushimustwrite yelled back. “I brought a visiting Wrimo with me. Thank the plot shovel. Meet Mia Wonnor. Mia, this is Lillian, or rswinehart3.”
Lillian (or was it rswinehart3? Mia decided to just call her Lillian since that was easier) waved at Mia. Sushimustwrite and Mia found two empty places at the end of the table.
“Welcome to Atlanta,” another Wrimo said, walking up from behind them. Mia saw his nametag read quintopia.
“You’re quintopia!” Mia said. Quintopia was a good bit taller than she was, but since Mia was barely five feet tall, even sushimustwrite towered over her. “You brought me to the first writein?”
“I did?” quintopia asked, looking confused.
“Yes, with the plot shovel,” Mia replied. She explained what sushimustwrite told her.
“Oh right, Sushi and I were trying to figure out how it worked,” quintopia said. “And then you showed up, which proved the demo effective. And then I disappeared to an Amsterdam write-in.”
“Yeah, forgot to mention that part,” sushimustwrite said.
“And then I showed up,” another Wrimo said, this one taller than quintopia.
“That wouldn’t have been a plot hole,” sushimustwrite said, looking up at this Wrimo, whose nametag read Cannikin.
“Hi Cannikin,” sushimustwrite said. She introduced Mia and Cannikin, and everyone settled down to write.
“Where are we supposed to be anyway?” Mia asked as she booted her laptop.
“Let’s see,” sushimustwrite said. “Today’s day eighteen, so…”
“Thirty thousand,” quintopia chimed in.
“Wait, day eighteen? But it was day sixteen just a few minutes ago!” Mia said. She turned to sushimustwrite. “I know it was! Wasn’t it, sushimustwrite?”
Sushimustwrite nodded. “Unfortunately that’s a consequence of plot shovel travel. Sometimes the plot shovel loves to twist time along with plots. No one’s figured out how to deal with it yet, or even if that’s intentional. And we can’t just ask the maker of the plot shovel since he’s not exactly what you’d call a friendly fellow. Well, he’d be friendlier if people wouldn’t bring up the Traveling Shovel of Death around him, but can you count on Wrimos not to do that?”
“Believe me, I know,” Mia said. “I already met the maker once. I have no desire to meet him again.”
“You’re a lucky one,” sushimustwrite replied. But before they could continue this discussion Lillian’s voice interrupted them by yelling, “Matt!”
Mia looked up. Sure enough, it was MattKinsi, and Mia remembered that it wasn’t ML Appreciation Day anymore. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t appreciate her ML. She ran up to MattKinsi and hugged his neck.
“Whoa, hi, Mia,” MattKinsi said. “What’s this for?”
“ML Appreciation Day,” Mia replied. “The fog ate me up and I missed it. This is to make up for it.”
“Aww, thanks Mia,” MattKinsi said.
More Wrimos showed up, including the familiar Loki892 and quixotic_hope. They settled down, and quixotic_hope started to write.
“What are you writing about, Mia?” quintopia asked from across the table.
“A futuristic world where a bunch of social rights are taken away,” she replied. “With zombies.”
“That’s one of my novels!” quixotic_hope said, looking up from her computer. “Well, minus the zombies.”
“Really?” Mia asked. “But I didn’t steal it from you and I’m pretty sure you didn’t steal it from me…”
Mia turned to sushimustwrite, who looked back at Mia guiltily. Sushimustwrite didn’t say anything. And that was when Mia knew.
“That’s your plot, isn’t it?” Mia said to sushimustwrite, who nodded.
“I knew it!” Mia said. “You couldn’t even come up with an original plot for me so you took someone else’s.”
“But quixotic_hope said I could,” sushimustwrite said. “Didn’t you?” Quixotic_hope nodded. “And you needed a plot and I couldn’t think of anything else and I needed to plan that one anyway, so it just seemed natural to give you that plot.”
After this chatter died down sushimustwrite started a word war. Mia found herself staring at the screen for the first couple of minutes of the war, then down at the floor. This wasn’t what she wanted to hear. But somehow the plot shovel wound up in her hand. She stuck the plot shovel in the ground, and despite the tile floor, the plot shovel made a dent. Mia continued digging and fell through the plot hole.
Mia landed in a field that looked unfamiliar to her. A vast expanse of green grass spread past Mia as far as her eye could see, and Wrimos stretched out on the field, their laptops in front of them, or notebooks in front of them, working on their novels. Every now and then a small blue bird flew toward a Wrimo with a message, and the Wrimo accepted the message with gratitude. More often, Wrimos would get up and talk to each other about their plots.
It was much like the forums, Mia thought to herself. In fact, this should be going on in the bulk of Wrimonia, on the eraser benches, with the discussion going on in the forums. So why wasn’t it?
Mia sat down to write, observing what everyone else around her was doing. There were characters around her, the characters of other Wrimos, some of them bending to the author’s will, others, not so much. But Mia wasn’t too concerned about that.
The sun peeked out through what was probably the only cloud in the sky. Funny that it would have to peek out through the only cloud in the sky, Mia though to herself. It was like the sun wanted to hide.
But as Mia watched, the cloud faded away and the sun shone even more brightly.
Mia cracked open her laptop and typed out a few words. Her characters were nowhere to be seen, but that was okay. She was fine without them for now. Mia smiled as she watched everyone else write. There was something about watching everyone else write from afar as she wrote, knowing that almost everyone else was going for the same fifty thousand words, knowing that this was what united them, no matter where they came from in life, no matter what they did outside of November.
A common goal bonded them together.
Mia tapped out a few more sentences and dug into her bag for something. She pulled it out and remembered when she acquired it: the metal pencil from her first year, the one that saved her NaNo, the one with the letters that spelled her name and rearranged themselves to spell NANOWRIMO. Was this coincidence that Mia Wonnor was an anagram of NaNoWriMo? Or was this purely intentional? Mia wondered this ever since finding out, and ever since her discovery as a character in a book, the question burned even more brightly, but she couldn’t ask sushimustwrite this, could she?
A few Wrimos near Mia paused to think in their writing. Mia held the pencil in her hand, thinking back to her first NaNo.
So sushimustwrite had this planned the whole time, didn’t she? Sushimustwrite knew what Mia was going to do the whole time with her novel, her plot, everything.
But what about Mia’s life outside of NaNo? Mia did have a life outside of NaNo, yes?
“I have to have a life outside of November,” Mia said. “There’s no way I can’t. I didn’t lose NaNo because of getting too derpy to lose, did I?” No, of course she didn’t. Real life got in the way combined with a lack of motivation with her novel. But did sushimustwrite orchestrate that as well? She had to; she was, after all, Mia’s puppet master.
Mia turned back to all the Wrimos working on their novels. All of them seemed so happy, but maybe some of them weren’t so happy. There was a reason the NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul forum was so crowded. Everything possible could go wrong in November, something Mia was all too familiar with; to be honest with herself, Mia was surprised that she didn’t start any threads in this forum this year. The ones she did start in the past received nothing but encouraging replies, though, but was real life really beating her up? No, it was that part about being a character in someone’s book, and almost no one could relate to that.
But there was still something about this meadow that Mia was sitting in. Plot bunnies bounced around, and every now and then one of them bit a Wrimo. Participants still talked among themselves, but never in an annoying fashion. Mia kept working on her novel, ignoring the fact that Molly and Luke and even Alaina never showed up. She didn’t need them right now.
She kept writing. She was seven thousand words behind; she needed the words, and the words needed her. She could pull off a seven thousand word day, couldn’t she? That would be enough to make her catch up. Mia knew she wasn’t a fast typist, but she could type quickly when she put the effort into it and when she knew exactly what was going on. Luckily she knew what was going to happen for the next few thousand words thanks to having plenty of time to muse over it.
So Mia kept writing. And kept writing. And kept writing. Molly and Luke did show up at some point, but Mia ignored them in favor of her keyboard and screen, imaging what was going on in the novel in her own head instead of making them act out everything.
“Aren’t you going to pay attention to us?” Molly asked, her pistol dangling from her wrist.
“You’re in my head now,” Mia said, pointing to her temple.
“In your head?” Molly asked. “What are you, mental?”
“Probably,” Mia replied. “But aren’t all writers mental in some way?”
Molly shook her head. Mental Mia might be, but let’s face it: Molly and Luke still had a job to do. Mia continued to ignore them and kept typing. She didn’t need their representations anymore. They were, after all, just physical figments there to make her feel like she was being an author. As long as they existed where she wanted them to exist, she would be happy.
And when the word counter announced that Mia was back on track many hours later, everyone within Mia’s vicinity celebrated with her.
“I knew you could do it, Mia,” a Wrimo by the name of Chomsky-rabbit said, handing Mia a chocolate bar. Mia tore into it immediately. Mmm. Canadian chocolate.
“Thanks,” Mia said, admiring chomsky-rabbit’s high word count, which was much higher than sushimustwrite’s.
“You’re doing great,” another Wrimo said, this one by the name of lorata. “Keep writing and you’ll be at fifty thousand in no time.”
Mia smiled. She knew she would.
And then she remembered.
“Noveling nirvana,” she said aloud.
“Noveling nirvana?” chomsky-rabbit asked.
Mia nodded. “You’ve never heard of it?”
“It sounds familiar,” chomsky-rabbit replied. “I think I’ve heard legends of it, that feeling when you’re writing and just want to keep going. I know that feeling. Do you know anything more about it?”
“It’s not just that,” Mia explained. “Though that’s part of it. Noveling nirvana, NaNo nirvana, is this feeling right here. The feeling you get when you put a bunch of supportive writers in one place with a deadline. Everyone cheers each other one. From the rebels–” Mia pointed to the NaNo Rebels forum, visible in the distance with its skull and crossbones logo. “To the folks going for fifty thousand to the folks going for way more. Sure, there are some catfights, but what do you expect when you put a lot of folks in one place like this? It’s practically expected, and I’d be surprised if there weren’t. But you can’t stop the feeling, and I wouldn’t want to if you paid me.”
“That’s why you donate,” lorata said. She pointed at Mia’s halo.
“And that’s why I did,” Mia said. “This is what people have been talking about with noveling nirvana. I didn’t believe it really existed, but it’s real! And it’s still real despite…”
“Despite…” Chomsky-rabbit said.
“Despite Chris Baty not being here.”
Chomsky-rabbit patted Mia on the back. “Chris Baty may not be here anymore, but his spirit still lives on!” she replied. “He created NaNo and Wrimonia and in that he instilled a spirit that refuses to be broken.”
“But why are there so many questions that aren’t answered?” Mia asked. “The legends of NaNo… he’s the only one who must know about them.”
“No, you are,” Chomsky-rabbit said.
“I am?” Mia asked, dumbstruck.
Chomsky-rabbit nodded. “Everyone leaves their own little legacies behind, their own little pieces to be put together. And you’re putting yours together, along with the ones that have been left behind by others. Keep doing that.”
Mia nodded. Keep doing that. “But in order to do that I need Chris Baty,” she said. “I’m going after the real legends. The big legends.”
“Then by all means seek him out!” chomsky-rabbit said. “Keep going! But remember, you are leaving your own little legacy behind in NaNoWriMo.”
Well, this was an awkward section to reread. All I’m saying on that.
And noveling nirvana… Mia’s learning something! Legends!
Share, don’t be a jerk, donate to Nano if you’re so inclined.