Noveling nirvana… Mia couldn’t believe she had finally experienced it, and now she had to decide whether to stay here a little longer and write, go back to the main part of Wrimonia, or continue her search for Chris Baty. She wound up staying in noveling nirvana for several more days, miraculously staying on track for that time, before making her way back to the forums of Wrimonia.
After she returned to the forums she found herself at a loss. She was back in the main forum area of Wrimonia, yes, but what now? She was now no closer to finding Chris Baty than she was before. In fact, she might be further than ever from finding him. He could be far from Wrimonia by now, safely ensconced in his novel with no one else around to bother him.
Instead of thinking about these things, Mia instead did what she discovered was the best thing to do in November: work on her novel. She sat down on an eraser bench near the square and watched as Molly and Luke came to life once again before her eyes. Mia tapped down a thousand words before spotting sushimustwrite running across the square, her long hair flapping in the wind.
“Sushimustwrite!” Mia yelled.
Sushimustwrite turned around. “Mia!” she yelled. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“Call me Sushi,” sushimustwrite said.
Finally, Mia thought. “All right, Sushi. Listen, I need help. I think I’ve uncovered all the legends you’ve told me about. Now what?”
“Write them down,” sushimustwrite replied.
“Write them down?”
Sushi stared at Mia. “Seriously, Mia?” she asked. “You’re writing a novel in a month and you won’t write down a few legends?”
“But they’re the Legends of NaNo,” Mia replied. “THE Legends. I can’t write all the legends of NaNoWriMo! How am I supposed to start this?”
Sushi paused. “You know, you won’t be writing the first legends of NaNo.”
“I won’t? But what was the first set?”
“Follow me.” Sushi led Mia past several forums and past a halo vendor toward a path behind Wrimo Hall. Mia had never noticed this path before.
“How long has this path been here?” Mia asked, wondering how she had missed this path for so long.
“Since 2010,” Sushi replied. “So you’ve been around longer than it has.”
“Then why have I never noticed it?”
Sushi shrugged. “The path has never been this big,” she replied. “It was a teeny tiny path in 2010, then got a little more noticeable in 2011 when more people started traveling it to see what was there and wanting to see what was at the end of the path, and then even more people started traveling the path this year.”
They continued walking down the path. “Where are we going anyway?” Mia asked.
“We’re going to take a walk down NaNo memory lane,” Sushi said. “Pretty much everything you’d want to know about NaNo is stored here.”
They reached the end of the path, and Mia saw a small hut with a pentagon logo on the door. Despite its small size, the hut stood firmly on its own ground but didn’t match any of the Wrimonia forums in design.
“I built this,” Sushi said as if she could read Mia’s mind. She probably was. Being the author granted perks like that.
“I didn’t know you could build stuff like this,” Mia said stupidly.
“There are a lot of things you don’t know about me,” Sushi told Mia. “Did you know I considered quitting my first NaNo, then came back and wrote over half the novel in the last week to win?”
Mia shook her head. “You mean you used to come from behind too?”
“Story of my first year right there,” Sushi replied. “No 50k day for me in my early days. I didn’t even write over fifty thousand by now. Nope, it was just me and my words struggling to get that purple bar before the calendar turned to December and validation turned off.”
“You mean I wouldn’t exist if you had quit?” Mia asked.
“That’s a loaded question right there.” Sushi twirled her long hair around her index finger. “What do you think?”
Mia pondered this for a minute. “If I’m your character and you created me, that means I would have been created only if you kept writing like you have. If you had quit early on I would never have existed.” Mia looked down and kicked a pebble sideways. “Right?”
“Well, someone else might have created someone like you,” Sushi said. “Some people have written similar stories, those about someone writing a novel in a month like you are. But no one else has written the exact same story I have, and no one will write the exact story you’re writing.”
“Not even quixotic_hope?”
“Not even Quix,” Sushi said. Mia noted the shortened version of quixotic_hope’s name that Sushi used. “Her version of the story doesn’t have zombies for one.”
“So you mean my story’s original?” Mia asked.
Sushi nodded. “Now wasn’t there something I was going to show you in here?” She led Mia into the hut.
Mia held in a gasp when she entered the hut. What was this magical place? Bookshelves lined the walls, most of them filled with books titled like “The Traveling Shovel of Death” or “Canada :: Alberta :: Edmonton Region History” or “The Office of Letters and Light Staff History”. All the books had titles related to NaNo culture and history, and Mia spotted a bookshelf for Script Frenzy with titles ranging from “Script Frenzy History” to “Script Frenzy Plot Machine”. Next to the Script Frenzy bookshelf was a Camp NaNoWriMo bookshelf. Books lined the Camp NaNoWriMo bookshelf, the titles things like “Blobby’s Origins” and “The Blue Tent of Whoa”.
“What is this place?” Mia asked.
“This is where everything related to NaNo’s history gets stored,” Sushi explained.
“But why didn’t I know about it?”
“Not everyone does. You saw the path. It used to be just me walking up and down the path gathering info for the archives, and then a few other folks found the path and added info to the archives, and then the NaNo staff found out about this little thing I’ve built here. That’s part of how this path got so big.”
“Where’d all these books come from?” Mia reached up and grabbed a book. This one bore the title “To 50k and Beyond: How Overachievers Came To Be”.
“Wrimonia has a magical way of donating blank books,” Sushi said. “But it wasn’t always that way. I had to contribute a lot of these books myself in the beginning when the archives were new. Bootstrapping, you know.”
“I didn’t mean the physical books. I meant the content. How did you find out everything about NaNo?”
Mia had opened the book by now and was flipping through the history of people who wrote far beyond fifty thousand words. She spotted Sushi’s name a few times, along with other familiar names from her years doing NaNo. All of this was material she never would have known unless she was immersed in the community herself. Granted, Sushi was one of those overachievers, but how would she have gathered all that info?
“I kept going back into Wrimonia and investigating,” Sushi said. “Wrimonia keeps lots of yearly site archives, but there was nothing easily accessible if you wanted to know everything on a given topic, like the guilt monkey or Mr. Ian Woon. So I kept digging into Wrimonia’s archives, and when that didn’t work, I searched the greater Internet and its archives. Most of the time I could find what I was looking for.”
“And those other times?”
“That’s when you ask around and see if anyone remembers. And when they don’t, well, it’s okay if something’s unknown, even though hard and fast facts are obviously better.” Sushi realized she was getting even more off track and said, “Oh right, I was going to show you something, wasn’t I?” She led Mia to a NaNo bookshelf and pulled a small book from the bookshelf, a blue book embellished with blue jewels that stood out on an otherwise worn leather cover. The rest of that shelf was empty.
“Is that an original copy?” Mia asked, noting how worn the cover looked.
Sushi nodded. “This is the original copy. It got lost for several years, and several Wrimos recovered it a couple of years ago and gave it a home here.” She handed the book to Mia, who held the book in her hands for almost an entire minute before cracking it open. Someone had sketched a country meadow into the cover, which read “The NaNoLand Chronicles: Bedtime Stories for Wrimos”. Chris Baty himself wrote this book.
“This is just a bunch of bedtime stories,” Mia said. “How can these be legends?”
“How can these be legends?” Sushi repeated herself but louder. “How can these be legends?! Mia, you’ve read the Harry Potter books, right?”
“You remember the tale that explains the Deathly Hallows, don’t you?”
“Then surely you remember how the Deathly Hallows turned out to be real even though the tale itself is buried in a children’s book.”
“But that was fiction!” Mia protested. “It’s not real.”
“You can still learn from fiction. Now open the book.”
Mia finally cracked the book open. Here again was the same design that was on the cover, but on paper this time, and handwritten. She turned the page and saw the title of the first legend, then began to read.
“What does this have to do with NaNo?” Mia asked as she read the first few paragraphs. “It’s just a bunch of kids’ stories.”
And Mia did keep reading the tales. She finished reading the first tale (“The Young Criminals of Wheatboggin”), then kept going all the way to the fourth tale (“The Impossible Invention”). Sushi watched and occasionally scribbled in books as Mia read. “Wait a minute, this is all about doing NaNo, isn’t it?” Mia asked as she finished and looked up from the book.
“Glad to see you figured it out. Chris Baty released these in 2004 as pep talks, but it’s rumored that the stories in the pep talks are real.”
“You mean they’re not just real from an allegorical perspective? I have an English degree. I’m pretty good at telling allegory through literature.” Then Mia remembered that she had an English degree because Sushi deemed it so. Did that mean she wasn’t good at that all of a sudden?
“They’re certainly real from an allegorical perspective,” Sushi said. “You can see the allegory as clearly as I can. But were the people real? No one knows. Some people think they are. No one has gone to great lengths to find out.”
“Not even you?”
“Not even me.”
“Are you going to find out?”
“Maybe. But there are more legends to pen now.” Sushi glided a finger across the empty part of the bookshelf the book came from. “And I can’t write all of them. I can’t even write the current set. You’re much more capable of writing these legends than I’ll ever be.”
“But you’ve done this eleven times! You’re… Sushi! You built this place! How can little old me do it?”
“Because you’re Mia Wonnor, and that’s how you roll. Now get to work.”
The hut represents–you guessed it–Wikiwrimo.
And you might have also guessed it–Mia gets to call me Sushi because I got tired of typing sushimustwrite all the time.
Share, don’t be a jerk, donate to Nano if you’re so inclined.