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Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Thirteen: A Mia-Sushimustwrite Conversation

Mia couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her, the star of someone’s novel? The star of a certain sushimustwrite’s novel? The same sushimustwrite who was rumored to know everything about Wrimonia and NaNoWriMo? How could sushimustwrite choose to write about a novel all about Mia?

“All about me?” Mia managed to squeak out after a few minutes. Tiakall and Heather had run off by now, probably to chase down forum rule-breakers or other delicious Wrimos (Mia remembered seeing a Wrimo named Lobster at some point). “But I’m really boring and I didn’t even finish NaNo last year. Why would you want to write about me?”

“Because you’re more interesting than you think you are,” sushimustwrite replied.

“But I’m just me,” Mia said. “If you want someone interesting for your book, try someone on the NaNo staff or someone NaNo famous or someone who’s actually doing something interesting with NaNo. Not me!”

“But you are interesting,” sushimustwrite said. “You struggle with NaNo sometimes but still stay determined–”

“Not last year!”

“That makes you more interesting,” sushimustwrite pointed out. “You’ve faced lots of distractions just like other Wrimos have, and you’ve defeated most of them. You can tell Wrimos about how you did it and how you traversed the many paths of Wrimonia. You’ve learned a lot about NaNo and Wrimonia during your short time here and you’re eager to learn more. You’re determined, writerly, and you don’t give up. You are the ideal main character.”

Mia still didn’t believe this but didn’t have the energy to protest. “But how can I be the star of YOUR novel? You’re… you’re sushimustwrite,” Mia protested. “You’re supposed to know everything about NaNoWriMo and Wrimonia. Or at least that’s what everyone’s told me, anyway.”

“Not everything,” sushimustwrite replied. “No one can know everything about NaNo. It would be an impossible feat, though a very impressive one nonetheless. I’ve been trying to find out everything I could about NaNo what with starting Wikiwrimo a few years ago, but…” sushimustwrite paused. “It turns out that there’s an awful lot to learn about NaNo. the deeper you dig into NaNo and its history and culture, the more there is to learn. Sort of like math.”

Mia didn’t say anything. She couldn’t really relate to this; she was never a big math person. She never really struggled in math classes, but they certainly weren’t her favorite courses, and she certainly never went out of her way to take more math than she absolutely had to. Yes, she did take AP Statistics in high school, but that was just so she could get the credit for the course in college, or at least try to anyway. She barely succeeded at that, but she succeeded and that was what mattered. Sort of like succeeding at NaNo. It didn’t matter whether you wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days or one day or whether you wrote two thousand words or two hundred thousand. It only mattered whether you thought you were a success.

“But I don’t like math,” Mia said. “And if you’re my author you should probably make a note of that because it might come up again.”

“But isn’t there anything you’ve liked so much that you wanted to dig deeper into and then discovered that there was a lot more to learn?” sushimustwrite asked hopefully.

Mia thought about this for a minute. The truth was that… well, there wasn’t anything, really. There was a reason she chose English as a major. She liked books but didn’t want to commit to reading a particular book. Even her senior thesis was probably the most general thing she could get approved by her advisor, and she only chose an English major because she wanted to keep reading books and get course credit for it, probably a reason lots of people choose that major.

Btu in all of Mia’s years, sure, she had hobbies. She liked to read. She liked to write. She occasionally took a hankering to knitting. She tried crochet at some point in the past but gave up after making too many tangled messes and tossing the whole thing. On her sister’s recommendation she once tried roleplaying but never liked it.

“Honestly, not really,” Mia replied.

“What about writing?” sushimustwrite asked. “Do you like to plot your novels? Have you ever edited something you’ve written? Maybe one of your past NaNo novels?”

“I am a plotter,” Mia said thoughtfully. “But I’ve never edited anything I’ve written for NaNo.” Truth be told, Mia didn’t want to edit anything she had written for NaNo. Not yet, anyway. The effort from the first year of NaNo was too awful to edit and deserved its place in a bonfire. She told sushimustwrite this. “The book from my second year wasn’t that bad,” Mia said. “It could really use a rewrite before really editing the thing, though.”

“And to do that you’re going to have to go deeper,” sushimustwrite said. “You’ll have to get to know your characters better, get to know your setting, get to know your plot. Take what you already know from your first draft and go deeper, maybe faster, but that part doesn’t matter too much as long as you know your world as well as you know yourself by the end of the thing. It’s the same thing when I’ve been exploring NaNo and its history. I keep thinking I know a good bit about NaNo. Heck, some of the NaNo staff have said I know more about NaNo than they do. But there’s so much more to explore when I look at little things, especially in the history. Not all of Wrimonia’s archives are there, and it takes a huge effort to find such archives, especially when they may or may not exist in the first place. And when they do exist but not all the pieces of the puzzle are there, I have to put the pieces together myself. It’s a lot of fun.”

“So what are you trying to tell me?” Mia asked.

“I don’t have the answers to everything,” sushimustwrite told Mia. “It may sound nice to know someone who knows a lot about NaNo, and goodness knows I’m not the only person who does. But no one knows everything, as you’ve already discovered. You’ll find this out as you keep going into Wrimonia and asking people about things. You’ll find out that you too know a lot about NaNo that other people don’t know, especially those who are doing NaNo for the first time. You could wow them with your knowledge.”

“but you can wow me with yours,” Mia said.

“That’s not the point,” sushimustwrite reminded Mia. sushimustwrite looked at her.

“Look, I need to ask you something.” Mia turned over the best way to ask this in her head, wishing she had rehearsed this sooner. She could have run into sushimustwrite at any time.

“Yes?”

“I was wondering if you could help me with something. Well, a couple of somethings.”

“I can certainly try,” sushimustwrite said. “I can’t promise anything, but depending on the request I can do my best to help you out. What is it you’d like me to help you with?”

“Well….” Mia paused for a minute, wondering what sushimustwrite would think about the first request. Sushimustwrite had been around the NaNo block, according to lots of folks Mia had talked to. She might have even met Chris Baty in person. What would she think about Mia’s trying to bring Chris Baty back to Wrimonia? And the legends of NaNo… What if they’re documented in this wiki sushimustwrite had mentioned? It all seemed so simple. Why didn’t Mia look up the legends in this wiki sooner?

“NaNo feels different this year,” Mia started.

“Well, it’s your fourth year,” sushimustwrite replied. “And you’re coming back after a nonfinish last year. It’s going to feel a little bit different and that’s completely understandable. You want to win this year, yes?” Mia nodded.

“I’m in it to win it,” Mia replied. “It’s okay if I’ve lost one year, but losing two years in a row… I don’t know if I could stand that.”

“I have a friend who has done NaNo as long as I have,” sushimustwrite replied. “And how many times has she finished? None.” Mia gasped here and opened her mouth to speak, but before she could sushimustwrite continued. “She still keeps coming back year after year, and she still has ideas to write. And heck, I think she just might win this year.”

“Don’t you say that every year?”

“Well, yes,” sushimustwrite admitted. “But this year I really think she can win, even if she might not think so. So keep believing in yourself and you can win. Now why else would you think Wrimonia feels different this year?”

Mia sighed, again thinking of what sushimustwrite thought of Chris Baty. “Wrimonia just isn’t the same without Chris Baty,” Mia finally said.

“Why would Wrimonia feel different?” sushimustwrite asked.

“I don’t know!” Mia exclaimed. “All my NaNos have involved Chris Baty leading Wrimonia and NaNo, and now he’s not here anymore and something in the air feels different. I don’t know what it is, but there was something in the air around here that was just… Baty.”

“You know, I’ve experienced this before. And yes, with NaNo,” sushimustwrite added before Mia could say anything. “You know how Lindsey Grant’s the current program director?” Mia nodded. “That used to be Chris Baty’s job. People thought things would be different when Lindsey Grant started giving pep talks and making more announcements around Wrimonia. But not that much changed. Does Lindsey have her own voice and style? Absolutely. Things would be boring if she didn’t, and I personally like it. But she still maintains the big picture voice that is Wrimonia. She wouldn’t have been chosen for the job if she didn’t.”

“But she’s not Chris Baty,” Mia said. “And Chris Baty himself was still around during that time, just not in that same position.”

“Okay, here’s another example,” sushimustwrite replied. “You don’t remember this since it happened before your time, but a long time ago NaNo transitioned into a nonprofit called the office of letters and Light. Chris became the head of this organization and people thought lots of things would change because of this. As it turned out, the main thing that changed was the improvement of everything. So many things were better run, more people got involved, and much more. And okay, a lot more things had to be watched out for because of their nonprofit status, but besides, that, not much really changed for regular Wrimos like us.”

“Regular Wrimos?” Mia asked, ready to protest this title.

“Yes, regular Wrimos. And I do include moderators and Municipal Liaisons and everyone else in this. People who aren’t staff,” sushimustwrite finished. “Basically these changes may look like big changes but they’re not that big on the whole. They just mean that things will be a little different on the backend. The nonprofit thing? That meant a lot of organizational stuff plus being able to donate year round, which let me tell you, I’ve been wanting for awhile before that. I was a student back then and didn’t always have the money to donate in November, so that was definitely welcomed. And Lindsey coming into the program director helm? That primarily left Chris to concentrate on other things within NaNo to make it bigger and better so Lindsey could run NaNo itself.”

“So what about Chris being gone altogether?” Mia asked. “That means he’ll never be here anymore… ever.”

“Oh, he’s probably still doing NaNo,” sushimustwrite said. “He founded NaNo! Without him NaNo and the wonderful community wouldn’t exist for us to enjoy and to meet new friends and write books and maybe even get them published. It wouldn’t exist for us to reach out and become better than we ever thought we could be. But him not begin at the head of NaNo now means that yes, someone else is doing it. But it also means that he’s going out on his own big fun scary adventure. Do you remember that forum that comes up after NaNo’s over?”

Mia shook her head. Truth be told, she didn’t really hang out in the forums post-November.

“That forum is sort of like a new year’s resolutions forum, but it starts in December and lets you make more than one goal and lets you talk to people who are going for the same things or even just other Wrimos going for their own adventures. They do have to be big, fun, and scary, or at least one of the three. Last year I made one of my goals to move out, and let me tell you, that was a scary prospect with little money and no job leads. But I did it and I’ve never been happier.”

“What does your life have to do with Chris Baty?” Mia asked.

“Chris Baty is doing this on his own,” sushimustwrite said. “His current big fun scary adventure is to be a full-time author, and that’s something he’s never had the time to do while working on NaNo full time. That’s practically juggling two jobs at once, and taking the plunge to full time writer is a scary thing in itself. What if you fail? What if you get a ton of bad reviews? What if? I’ve thought about it myself. But really, he’s living the mission of NaNo by leaving. Strange, I know it seems at first, but oh so true.”

“You mean he’s doing the right thing by leaving?” Mia asked. She still wasn’t convinced, but maybe she could understand what sushimustwrite was saying here.

sushimustwrite nodded. “Absolutely,” she replied. “And you’re probably not going to convince him to come back and run Wrimonia again.”

“But what if I could just find him? I mean, he must know more about the legends of NaNo than anyone else. Well, except you.”

“The legends of NaNoWriMo?”

“Well, yes, that was the other thing I was going to ask you,” Mia said. “I’ve heard about these legends of NaNo, and I don’t know why, but somehow these all seem connected. I think I’ve even seen one of the legends in person for real but don’t have a way to verify this.”

“For real? As opposed to a fake one?”

“That’s what everyone’s been telling me, like the experience could be fake instead of real. How can something be fake if you really experienced it?”

“It’s not,” sushimustwrite replied. “It’s real because you experienced it. Just as it’s real in your mind, it’s real in your own set of personal experiences. Someone else out there may think it’s fake, but that doesn’t change anything for your own.”

“But what about the people who say otherwise? What about the people who say that certain things about the inspiration garden are real or fake or what have you? What about everyone who says that there’s only one true inspiration garden experience or noveling nirvana experience, not that I’ve ever experienced noveling nirvana myself?” Mia was talking faster and faster by this point, and she realized that she was out of breath by the time she stopped asking all these questions. It was an awful lot for sushimustwrite to take in at once, Mia was sure, but there wasn’t much of a way to get all these questions out.

“Okay, hold on a minute,” sushimustwrite replied. “Remember what I said about your experiences all being real? That applies to other people as well. Don’t listen to what other people say about a given experience being fake. It’s the same way about ignoring cheaters. Their experiences, whether they sound better or worse or maybe even more real than yours, that doesn’t make them any more real or fake. All of these experiences are genuine, and all of them are true to what you’re experiencing and getting out of NaNo.”

“But what if Chris Baty says something different?”

Sushimustwrite paused, not having much to say to this. Mia couldn’t read sushimustwrite’s mind but if she could, Mia had a feeling sushimustwrite probably wanted to clobber Mia right now. Or at least Mia would if the situation was swapped.

“Chris Baty isn’t the final authority here.”

“Let’s find out.”

“Whoa whoa, I don’t know anything more about where Chris Baty is than you do, and let’s face it, that’s not all that much,” sushimustwrite said. “how am I supposed to help you find Chris?”

“But you’re sushimustwrite!” Mia said. “Everyone’s told me you know everything about NaNo. Surely you know where Chris Baty is.”

“Look, if the NaNo staff have no idea where he is–”

“I’ve already asked them. They have no idea.”

“Then how do you expect me to know? I’m just this gal, you know?”

“Then will you help me then?”

“With finding Chris Baty? I’m not sure how much help I can provide, to be honest. The most I could do is tell you whether or not you’re terribly wrong in your guesses. And what if I lead you to some dangerous spots within Wrimonia?”

“Dangerous spots?”

“The Pit of Procrastination? Don’t tell me you’ve never been there before.”

“How’d you know? That’s part of how I never finished last year.”

“I’ve been here since 2002 and believe me, I know all about the Pit of Procrastination. That’s why I hardly got any real work done last year. Blame my novel and the lures of the Internet. But I’m telling you, there’s not much I can really do with helping you find Chris Baty.”

“Well, can you at least be, I don’t know, a mentor of some kind? Not the kind newbies get when it’s their first time doing NaNo since I’m not a newbie, but you know, guide me to the right place when I have guesses? Guide me to the right places involving these legends?”

sushimustwrite considered this for a minute. What would it cost her to do this? Mia could almost see the wheels turning in sushimustwrite’s head.

“I could do that,” sushimustwrite said. “I can’t promise that everything I tell you will help you or even that it’ll be right. DO you agree to this?”

Mia considered this for a minute. sushimustwrite, yes, sushimustwrite! could lead Mia in completely the wrong direction in finding Chris Baty, and Mia wouldn’t be able to blame her. They were two girls going on a wild goose chase, or was that a wild Baty chase? In either case, they were definitely looking for something that they may or may not find.

“Okay,” Mia said. “I can work with this. Let’s get some stuff done.”

The two of them shook on this.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to write.” Sushimustwrite made to walk away from Mia.

“Hey!” Mia yelled behind sushimustwrite. “Why can’t I come with you? You already said I’m your character!”

sushimustwrite turned around. “Isn’t that what you’re doing now?” sushimustwrite asked. “Besides, I already have this scene, and it’s ready to be written. I like you, Mia, but I don’t need all my characters to follow me around all the time. Sometimes Wrimo introverts gotta introvert.”

Mia took this as a sign to go away and work on her own novel, which was certainly lacking in word count. It was okay. She hadn’t written a word that day yet anyway, much like sushimustwrite.

“Hey, wait a minute,” Mia said. “Let’s do a word war. You said you haven’t written anything yet today either.”

Mia watched as sushimustwrite’s eyes lit up. “Okay,” sushimustwrite said. “Let me pull up my outline for this scene and we can get started. But a word of warning: Don’t try to compete with me.”

“Why not?” Mia asked, but she already knew the answer before it left sushimustwrite’s mouth.

“You’ll find out.” And they walked to the Word Wars, Prompts, and Sprints forum straight to the word war area where BattleJesus was running word wars.

**
This one was pretty hard to title (but was easy to write).

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Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twelve: Mia Meets Her Maker

Mia hit her quota for November first, going over by twenty words. It wasn’t much, but it was progress.

Zombies, Mia told herself while walking around the forums later on the first. Zombies! Whoever thought that was a good idea anyway? But it was her plot and it wasn’t too bad to write so far, so she might as well stick with it.

But the forums were there and they were distracting. The next day Mia found herself wandering around the forums while putting off writing and ran into a heated discussion outside the Suggestions forum.

“Cheater!” Mia heard a Wrimo yell. “There’s no way you could have done that.”

Mia looked at his nametag and saw that it read olafstar. He looked familiar; Mia thought he was the person behind a few other inflammatory posts on the forums. She looked up and saw that Olafstar was pointing at a Wrimo with long dark brown hair, a name badge with ten past winner badges, and a full bright blue word count bar. Fifty thousand thirty words? But it’s only November second!

Mia stared at this person with such a high word count. How was this possible? Could someone even type that fast? “That’s what, two thousand words an hour?” Mia asked aloud before realizing what she said.

“Over two thousand words an hour, every hour, for twenty-four hours straight,” Olafstar said. “That’s impossible.”

Mia remembered the word count scoreboards she had seen in past years. “No it’s not,” she replied quietly, noticing that this Wrimo being accused of cheating hand’t said a word. “I’ve seen people do it before on the word count scoreboard that isn’t there anymore.”

“I’ll believe two plus two make five before I believe Sushi actually wrote fifty thousand words yesterday,” Olafstar said.

A whistle blew, and Mia looked around. Something, no, someone, was flying down from the sky. Mia watched as the person landed. This person looked familiar, this someone with long red hair and a flowing cape and a big stick. Dragonchilde! No, Heather Dudley. Whatever her username was now.

“Hey!” Heather said, pointing her big stick at Olafstar while Mia and the long-haired Wrimo looked on. “That’s not okay. You know it’s against the Codes of Conduct to accuse someone of cheating. NaNoWriMo is a self-challenge, and people who finish the fifty thousand words in a day get just as much out of NaNo as you do by writing the fifty thousand words over the course of a month.”

“But fifty thousand words in a day just isn’t possible,” Olafstar retorted. “That’s two thousand words an hour every single hour. You have to sleep sometime.”

“I’ve written fifty thousand words in ten days before,” Heather replied. “It was really hard. I’ve seen people who can write faster, and I’ve seen her write in person. It’s definitely possible.”

When Olafstar opened his mouth to protest, Heather added, “It’s not the individual Wrimo’s job to tell you how they wrote such high word counts in a day,” Heather replied, still wielding her big stick. “And it’s not your privilege to know how they did it, either.”

Olafstar stood there for a minute, looking like he was about to run away from Heather, but he stayed put. Another Wrimo entered, a short Wrimo who was dressed as a ninja. Mia noted her high word count and nametag that read tiakall, along with the Municipal Liaison and moderator badges.

Municipal Liaison? Moderator? Here was someone else who might know about the legends of NaNoWriMo!

Tiakall also carried a stick, though slightly smaller than Heather’s stick, and she pointed that stick at Olafstar the entire time she was within seeing distance of this Wrimo. “You didn’t read the Codes of Conduct, did you?” she asked, making sure the stick remained very close to Olafstar’s face. “It’s against the Codes of Conduct to call any other user a cheater, no matter their word count. And having seen Sushi write in person, I happen to know that she can write fifty thousand words in a day and that she’s no more a cheater than you are.”

Olafstar opened his mouth to reply, but tiakall kept talking over him. “You’re quite a bit ahead on your word count as well. Guess that’s not possible either, is it?”

“But–” Olafstar said before tiakall interrupted him again.

“Your behavior through these forums has been unacceptable. Please don’t come back until you learn to speak respectfully to others and follow the rules of Wrimonia that you so love following,” tiakall finished.

Olafstar had nothing else to say to this. He turned around and ran away from the square before Heather could shake her stick at him.

“What just happened?” Mia asked the three Wrimos standing there. She noticed that tiakall also had quite a high word count, but nowhere near the full blue bar that the Wrimo known as Sushi had. (Mia couldn’t see her nametag and therefore didn’t know whether Sushi was in fact her full username or whether it was short for something else.)

“Sorry you had to witness that,” Heather told Mia. “Every now and then someone gets called out for cheating when they don’t realize NaNo is a self-challenge. Someone else’s high word count doesn’t invalidate your own accomplishments.”

“But fifty thousand words in a day?” Mia asked, looking up at her own 1687 words in her blue bar. “That’s writing more than this–” Mia pointed up at her blue bar. “–every hour for a day. When would you sleep?”

“I didn’t,” the long-haired Wrimo replied, stepping forward, and Mia noticed that she was still bleary-eyed. And now Mia saw her nametag and donor halo and full blue bar and ten purple winner badges as well. But the name on the username badge stood out as the long-haired Wrimo pulled her hair back…

“Sushimustwrite?!” Mia exclaimed as several years of seeing that name around Wrimonia and a month of hearing that name rushed to the front of her mind. “It’s you!” Mia stayed rooted to the ground despite a desire to run up and hug this sushimustwrite person. This may have had to do with the fact that tiakall had pulled out a pair of chopsticks and was now sneaking up behind sushimustwrite.

Sushimustwrite didn’t notice any of this, probably because tiakall was living up to her ninja skills. But tiakall sneaked ever closer to sushimustwrite and grabbed her ear with the chopsticks, then proceeded to nibble.

“Sushimustwrite, you’re being eaten!” Mia yelled, jumping back. She was not going to approach sushimustwrite now, at least not while tiakall was in the vicinity. What if tiakall ate her too?

Sushimustwrite jumped forward. “But you told me nibbling was okay!” tiakall said.

“Mia said you were eating me,” sushimustwrite replied. “You know eating me isn’t okay. We’ve gone over this too many times.”

But tiakall didn’t relent, instead stepping closer to sushimustwrite and clicking the chopsticks. “But you’re so delicious. Why won’t you let us eat you?”

“I’m your friend, not food.” Sushimustwrite turned away from tiakall.

Tiakall clicked the chopsticks again. Mia had had enough. She stepped forward toward sushimustwrite and stepped between sushimustwrite and tiakall. “No,” Mia said. “You are not going to eat sushimustwrite.”

“Mia!” sushimustwrite exclaimed.

Mia turned toward sushimustwrite. “Wait, how did you know my name?” Mia asked.

“Mia Wonnor?” sushimustwrite asked. “It’s on your nametag, for one. But I can’t believe it’s you!” Sushimustwrite threw her arms around Mia, ignoring the chopstick clicking in the background. “I’ve been looking for you for ages.”

“I could say the same of you,” Mia replied. “Everyone has told me to find you this year, and the way they’ve been talking about you, they made me think you’re everywhere in Wrimonia.”

“Not entirely a false statement,” sushimustwrite replied. “I get around this place. Not so much yesterday thanks to being a little busy.”

Mia looked at sushimustwrite’s full word count bar again. Fifty thousand thirty words. Safe to say that she was busy.

“How did you do it, anyway?” Mia asked.

“Very carefully,” sushimustwrite replied. “One fifteen minute nap, lots of tea, fast typing and writing speed, an uncanny ability to pants the heck out of my plot, and turning off my inner editor. It’s not for everyone, and it may not be for you. I didn’t think it would be for me my first year, or heck, my eighth or ninth. But then cosmam bribed me with alcohol if I succeeded last year, and it was mathematically possible, so…”

“You mean you’ve done this twice?” Mia asked. “Your hands. Your poor hands.”

“My hands are fine. The rest of my body is the problem. Have you seen me sit and type?”

Mia shook her head. “So what are you writing about now? Are you continuing with this novel, are you starting a new one…”

“Actually, I finished that book yesterday,” sushimustwrite said. “So I’m starting a new one now. I was just seeing what my main character was up to so I get an idea of what would happen later. This book contains more plot than the book it’s a sequel to.”

“Oh cool, what’s it about?”

“You.”

**

This is probably my favorite part of the novel. A few folks asked me why I wasn’t in the first Wrimonia. The answer is that I couldn’t figure out how to include myself. This time I figured out a way. And now the fun begins.

The cheating scene is based on something that really happened.

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Categories
Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Eleven: Mia Starts Her Novel

“But where are my characters?” Mia yelled half an hour later while writing out the backstory for her novel. She knew it was the future and what was going to happen, but what about the characters?

Well, it was about time to start putting words on the screen, now wasn’t it? Mia started writing.

“It was 2018 and…”

“And what, Mia?” Mia asked herself. “And things weren’t looking too great? And things were going to hell? Come on, Mia, you can’t just start a novel with that.”

Maybe it was time to introduce a character, but from where? She took out her notebook and remembered the ideas she had previously outlined. It was time to rely on those, even though none of them would get her through the first scene.

As Mia started putting pen to paper and writing about the background, two people, a boy and a girl in their late teens, appeared in front of Mia. They stood in front of Mia for several minutes before Mia looked up and acknowledged them.

“Can I help you?” Mia asked.

“Uh hi,” the boy said. “We’re your characters. You know, for your novel.”

“For my novel?” Mia asked. “Oh boy am I glad to see you. Now tell me what you’re going to do so I can write it down.”

“Whoa whoa, we can’t do that so fast,” the girl replied. “At least let us introduce ourselves.” The girl stood up straight with a pistol at her waist and a worn appearance. “Hi, I’m Molly. We’re gonna get to know each other really well over the next month.” Molly didn’t extend a hand, Mia couldn’t help but notice.

“And you are?” Mia asked, turning to the boy next to Molly.

“Luke,” the boy replied. “Good to meetcha.”

“Excellent. I have a book to write, so let’s get going. What are you two up to?”

“Well, see, in your story timeline we haven’t even met yet,” Molly replied. “Luke’s still in the orphanage and I’m still being raised by my parents.”

“Wait, orphanage? You mean Luke was an orphan? The kind who was born out of man and woman marriage?”

“That’d be the one,” Luke said. “This one really did me in on the brainwashing too, I mean Jesuswashing. They made me believe that everything outside of Jesus was wrong and I was going to hell for it. And they kept a careful eye on everything you did too, meaning I couldn’t get good at anything I liked.”

“Gee, that sucks,” Mia replied. “I’m sorry.”

“You should be. Though really, you’ll find out who really should be sorry later.”

“Okay, who’s telling this story? Because you’re gonna have to sit down and tell it. I’ve got words to write.” Mia pointed at the document at her computer, which currently had five hundred seventeen words in it. “I’m not gonna get much more story out of just listening to you two, you know.”

“Fine, here’s my story.” Molly sat down on the eraser bench next to Mia and crossed her legs. “I’ve been reading about zombies and a potential apocalypse my whole life, so when my parents were patients zero and one in Zombiepocalypse, I knew my moment had come.” A big grin spread across her face.

“Your moment?”

“Yep,” Molly replied. “If your parents had died from being zombies you’d want to avenge their deaths too.”

“But doesn’t life end at natural death for you?” Mia asked. “At least in your world.”

“See, I’ve always wondered about that,” Molly replied. “My parents were both professors so they made me think about this stuff all the time. I got tired of it when I was a kid, but now that I’m older it’s something I’ve grown grateful for.”

“Okay, enough brain dumping. Let’s start writing,” Mia said.

“There’s one thing you should know in case it’s not obvious,” Luke replied.

“And what’s that?”

“You know how the zombies are spreading through the land?” Luke asked. Mia nodded. “Guess where they go first?”

***
And Mia starts her novel!

This is a short installment since the next few are pretty plotty and long.

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Categories
Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Ten: November’s Arrival

Four hours later Mia emerged from her planning with a rough outline of her novel, complete with crossouts and doodles. NaNoWriMo would start in just over half an hour, and Mia finally felt ready. There was one thing that still wouldn’t resolve itself.

Mia kept finding herself turning around to see who was following her around. The first time she turned around she saw a group of Wrimos talking about their plots, none of them with word count bars above their head. The second time, a few minutes later, Mia turned around to see a Wrimo with a rising word count bar typing away at his laptop.

None of these people were concerned enough about Mia to have been following her around for the past few weeks. Why was she so concerned about finding whoever it was?

But as a long-haired Wrimo with no word count bar passed Mia and the clock ticked ever closer to midnight, Mia found herself wondering whether or not the idea she had was such a good idea after all.

It happened every year. Mia would have a plot all planned out and think about backing out at the eleventh hour because the plot wasn’t good enough or well planned enough or wordy enough to reach the magical fifty thousand. She found herself doubting the plot of her novel and how good it could be if it had zombies because come on, zombies. When was that ever a good idea?

But the clock ticked ever closer to November. Half an hour to November… twenty minutes… Mia’s outline was there. But was it ready?

Fifteen minutes…

More word count bars were popping up over Wrimos’ heads, and blue bars were filling up. Mia watched a Wrimo as his blue bar went from 674 words to 1023 words, a jump of over three hundred words. How long did it take them to write those words?

Ten more minutes…

Wrimos in the time zone slated to start in ten minutes, as Mia’s was, were already crowding around the square ready for the midnight bullhorn that would guide them into November. This was also a new feature; Mia remembered no such thing during the first two Novembers of her NaNo experience. This new Rails thing was definitely a good thing.

Seven more minutes…

Five more minutes…

And that was when Mia noticed something new in the square. It must have been sitting there for awhile, but it wasn’t big enough to get her attention for awhile. That is, until now.

It was a large ball, and it was pulsating. No one dared go near it. Mia thought about going near it, and she watched as Wrimos tried to walk near it, but they always walked back away. What caused them to walk away?

“What is that thing?” Mia asked the nearest Wrimo. “That wasn’t here last year, was it?”

“That’s the countdown ball,” the Wrimo next to Mia replied. Mia looked at her nametag and saw that it said rubyfruit. “Someone else explained it to me since it’s so new, but you know those countdown things for New Year’s Eve?” Mia nodded. She was quite familiar with those, having watched lots of balls drop on New Year’s Eve with her family as a kid. It wasn’t the most exciting way to spend New Year’s Eve, but it was a way to spend the event. “Well, this ball doesn’t fall on November first. It just expands. And according to someone in the tech help forum it’s full of words that will inspire you as you start to write.”

Words? Inspiration? This was certainly relevant to Mia’s interests.

“So how do I catch one of these words?” Mia asked.

“I have no idea,” rubyfruit replied. “They didn’t go into that much detail. I’m guessing that you can just catch a word or let it hit you on the head the same way you might do it in the word war forum. Make sense?”

It sort of made sense. Mia remembered all her word wars with BattleJesus in that forum in past years. “And what happens if you don’t catch a word? Does that mean you’re destined to not finish NaNo or something?”

Rubyfruit shrugged. “Again, no idea,” rubyfruit replied. “This is the first year anyone’s done anything like this. Maybe you’ll win NaNo (though I hope you do), maybe you won’t, but you’re sure to have a heck of a time doing it, right?”

Mia decided that rubyfruit was right and she waited for those final few minutes for midnight to strike and for November to begin.

At the one-minute mark the ball grew so big that it took up almost the entire square and pushed a bunch of Wrimos out of the square. The ball continued to grow bigger in the final few seconds as Wrimos took out their writing implements. Laptops and notebooks and Alphasmarts and even the occasional typewriter came out on the square.

And finally, the final few seconds arrived, and everyone counted aloud. Mia looked around at these Wrimos, none of whom had word counts yet.

“Ten… nine… eight… seven… six… five… four… three… two…”

Mia continued watching the ball of what Rubyfruit said contained words. It was now pulsing up as if it was going to explode up into the air.

“One…”

The ball jumped up and down as if by its own accord.

A bullhorn sounded, and cheering erupted in the crowd. Despite Mia’s lack of confidence in her plot, despite her nondesire to write zombies this year, and despite everything else that could be holding her back, she cheered with everyone else.

That cheering distracted her temporarily from the explosion.

Where there was once a ball now laid words of all kinds. Mia spotted nouns and adjectives and adverbs and big words and small words, Latin-derived and Greek and words of unknown origin. The words of unknown origin were the worst, Mia decided, at least when you were trying to spell them. There were no sound tricks to help you figure out how to spell them.

Mia looked up then and saw words falling from the sky. The words weren’t falling in a way that meant war like the words with BattleJesus during those word wars, but in a more celebratory way. If there ever was a way to have word confetti, this was it, except this confetti probably wouldn’t have to be cleaned up the next day. Words of all sorts landed on the heads of various Wrimos; Mia watched as “defenestrate” landed on rubyfruit’s head.

The word landing wasn’t as painful as Mia had expected; in fact, Mia was already settled on an eraser bench and booting up her computer before someone pointed it out.

“I know you’re writing, but you still have a word on your head,” a Wrimo sitting at the next bench said, turning to Mia.

“Oh, do I?” Mia asked, feeling her forehead.

“A little higher,” the Wrimo said, whose name turned out to be ororo. Mia reached to the top of her head and felt a soft word bouncing around. “Wait a minute,” Mia said. “That’s not a word.”

“Yeah, it is,” Ororo replied. “It’s still there bouncing around off the top of your head.” Ororo pointed to a space over Mia’s head.

“But wouldn’t I feel it bouncing around?” she asked. “surely I would.”

“Not necessarily,” ororo said. “You don’t feel every word in a word war, do you?”

ororo had a point. Sure, Mia felt some of the words in a word war, but she never felt all of them, probably because she was too busy writing to notice.

“It’s just… bouncing around…” ororo said. “It’s kind of cute, to be honest.”

“But how do I get it off me?” Mia asked. “Do I just grab it?” She reached for a space over her head in an attempt to grab the word.

“I tried doing that to my word too and it didn’t work,” ororo said. “It didn’t work out too well. But no, what you need to do is to write that word into your novel. Forms of the word are fine too from my observations.”

“So I can make something bounce? Or make something look like it bounced? Or maybe…” Mia turned back to her computer, which was already fully booted up and ready to accept a novel. Ready or not, it was time to write.

**
Happy November from Wrimonia! We’ll find out how Mia does with the zombies.

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Categories
Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Nine: The Pit of Procrastination

The trio found themselves at the bottom of the hill covered in dirt and eraser marks. Mia dusted some eraser marks off the back of her pants before they dove down another pit, this one steeper than the first one. Mia remembered the steepness of the hills and suspected that the design of the pit was to lure unsuspecting Wrimos into the pit and never come out. Mia never made it to the very bottom of the pit last time that she knew of, but she also remembered how far she made it down and how hard it was to get out of the pit.

This year would be different, right? It wasn’t even November yet. Even with the zombies that shouldn’t even be in her novel in the first place and the two Wrimos leading her to the Pit of Procrastination all in the name of research before November started… with hours to go…

Inoru no Hoshi and Starrlilly led Mia down another hill, this time sliding down an even steeper hill and landing on an Internet video. Mia didn’t recognize this part of the Pit of Procrastination from last year. “Where are we?” she asked.

“This is Youtube,” Inoru no Hoshi replied. “You can access it from within Wrimonia as well, but when you get sucked into the Pit, well…”

“Then how are we going to get out?”

“There are ways. They’re hard, but we can do it.”

“Have you ever done it?” Mia asked, turning to the pair.

“Yes,” starrlilly replied. “It’s hard and it takes a lot of determination, but it can be done. We just have to make our escape before more distraction suck us in. Now let’s get going.”

The three of them stood in front of the video, a large screen resembling a hologram in front of them with a play button on the screen. Starrlilly reached up and pressed the play button. Three chairs popped up and scooted themselves under Mia, Inoru no Hoshi, and starrlilly.

“Whoa,” Mia said as the lights lowered over the screen. The opening credits rolled, and the movie started to play.

“Is this the entire movie?” Mia asked as the main character read off the first few rules of Zombieland. “I thought we were just going to watch Youtube clips.”

Inoru no Hoshi nodded. “You’d be surprised what you can find online. And pay attention,” she said. “Or at least take zombie notes.”

They sat back and watched the movie. Mia found herself tinkering with the seat at some point; she discovered at some point that it reclined and the feet propped up. She kicked back and relaxed, and the screen adjusted itself accordingly so it was right above her as she reclined. Why couldn’t all theatres do this?

The movie went on, telling a tale of zombies and trust and yes, love, Surprisingly Mia found herself enjoying it despite the zombies, or maybe because of the zombies. But the zombies were stirring up ideas in her head, ideas that weren’t there before.

And the ideas from the inspiration garden were still there, dancing at the edge of Mia’s mind. Could zombies fit in the novel?

“I need to get going,” Mia said as the credits rolled. “I need to plan my novel.”

“But there’s so much more to explore!” Inoru no Hoshi replied. “Have you seen Twitter? Or Tumblr?”

“No.” Mia looked for a ladder or a rope or anything that would get her out of this pit and finding nothing. “And I don’t want to either. I need to plan my novel before the first gets here and I get to start writing it.”

But there was nothing to help her leave the Pit of Procrastination, and Inoru no Hoshi and Starrlilly weren’t giving her any help in leaving the Pit, instead wandering off to other areas of procrastination. Mia looked around. The screen that Zombieland had played on had disappeared, along with the chairs they had sat in.

Mia walked in the same direction they walked off in. Maybe they did know a way out but got distracted by other things. That did happen in the Pit of Procrastination, after all.

But she got distracted by the sound of those freaking blue birds. Again.

The birds descended on everyone in the Pit of Procrastination, even those not previously paying attention to the birds. One of the birds landed on Mia’s shoulder and tweeted a message in Mia’s ear. Mia couldn’t quite understand what the bird was saying, but when another bird landed on Mia’s other shoulder and tweeted another message, Mia found herself still confused but oddly curious. What were these birds saying?

“How do I find out what the birds are saying?” Mia asked anyone who would listen.

Starrlilly had wandered back to where Mia was standing and attempting to decipher what the birds were saying. “How do you figure out what they’re saying?” Mia asked.

“You listen carefully,” Starrlilly replied. Another bird sat on Starrlilly’s shoulder, tweeting a message. But starrlilly was able to send a message back with the bird, scribbling on a sheet of paper and tucking it in the bird’s feathers. “Try listening more carefully.”

Mia tried listening more carefully, this time with an ear more attuned to bird songs. And then she heard the human voice behind the birds.

“NaNoWriMo: It’s that funny limbo when half the world has started and the other half is wiggling with anticipation. Happy NaNo/NaNo Eve, everyone!”

“NaNoWordSprints: GO! Write write write!”

NaNoWriMo was on this Twitter site! And so were these word sprints that honeyelle told Mia about earlier. Surely Twitter wasn’t the waste of time she thought it was previously. Maybe Twitter was worth something after all.

“How do I sign up?” Mia asked.

“You catch a big blue bird when it flies past,” starrlilly explained. “And you tell it you want to join and you give the bird the info it asks for. And then you’ll be able to see more users and follow them.”

So Mia began the search for a big blue bird. All the birds in this area of the Pit of Procrastination were small birds, none of them large enough to support a new user like Mia. She continued searching for a big blue bird for a few minutes before finally noticing one fly toward her in the sky.

“Hello?” she yelled at the bird. “Hello? I want to join you in…. Twitter… flight?”

The bird stopped in front of Mia and didn’t say or tweet a word. It did, however, make a motion with its left wing for Mia to hop on its back. Mia hopped on and the bird flew up and away.

“Username?” the bird tweeted.

“Mia Wonnor,” Mia replied, looking down as the Pit of Procrastination grew smaller and smaller. Was she really going to escape the pit? Was another method of procrastination really going to free her?

But before the bird could ask for anything else, Mia felt the bird change from under her, the back growing wider, the head growing smoother, and the entire body losing its feathers and wings. A series of small birds appeared and pulled the animal up. What was this animal… a whale?

Mia turned around. Yes, that was definitely a whale’s tale. The whale kept floating above the Pit of Procrastination and toward the less procrastinatey part of Wrimonia… if any other parts of Wrimonia could be called less procrastinatey.

The whale sailed over the Pit of Procrastination and back into Wrimonia, descending toward the ground. The whale tilted slightly to the left, and Mia landed in the middle of the square.

Mia looked around. Did she have a Twitter account? Did she really escape the Pit of Procrastination unscathed? She got up and dusted some dirt off her pants, then looked at the Countdown Clock.

Four hours, thirty-eight minutes until November.

Crap. There was a novel out there that still needed planning and Mia still didn’t have a Twitter, which was probably for the best. She plunked herself on an eraser bench and started outlining.

***

Ah, the Fail Whale. How I (don’t) miss you.

The NaNoWriMo tweet really is a NaNo tweet. I’m pretty sure the NaNoWordSprints one has been tweeted at some point, but I didn’t bother to dig it up.

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