Good luck to all you writing-folk! (NaNoWriMo Website)
So it begins, she thought as she held the pencil—wait no—as she… nevermind I did like that, let’s go back:
So it begins, she thought as she held the pencil hovering over the blank piece of paper. NaNoWriMo…
There was a sense of foreboding in the air, a slight crisp energy or maybe a slight chill. Had music been playing, it would emulate the emotion from Jaws or some other thriller movie where the villain is lurking around the corner and the protagonist sits, unaware of the danger, right in the middle of the screen. Breathe. That might have been a run on sentence. We’ll fix it later.
The air felt fresh rimmed with a tinge of promise. Anything could happen.
With a deep breath the tip of the pencils meets the page in a bold stroke as she starts to write—
I stare at the flashing… ugh I don’t know what it’s called. The line that blinks in taunting, laughing at your distress as you attempt to write anything—spitting up letters at apparent whim, holding them hostage for ransom, or even, gobbling them up like they never existed. You know. The line in your word document that flashes to show you where your cursor is… that line. Is there a name for it? The flashing blinker? Or is that redundant? Either way, I stare at it and pause.
“Write what? What am I supposed to be writing?”
I jump at the sound of the voice. My eyes search around my room. I’m still alone, so who spoke?
“Am I supposed to be a fictionalized version of you?” the voice continues in a soft drawl. “Are you writing a story about you writing a story? Would that be like book inception? Intertextuality for sure…”
My eyes widen as they return back to my computer to find a girl sitting atop the word document open on my desktop. Her light brown hair with subtle golden-blond highlights falls loosely past her shoulders and down her back. She’s perched on the top of the most recent paragraph as though seated on a bench. Her legs dangle over “meets the page” obscuring them beneath dark blue skinny jeans as she pumps her legs back and forth. A bright red blouse hangs on her torso, a stark contrast to her fair skin and green eyes. Leaning forward slightly, her fingers grasp the sentence as if for balance.
I blink. I would almost say she looks like me except for in an almost chibi-animated form. For a second I think that I’ve jumped back in time to grade school when chibi-style was popular.
“Uh…” the sound escapes my lips as my brain attempts to make sense of the situation.
“Are you inner-monologing right now?” she asks. “Don’t panic. You are not crazy. Or at least, not in the clinical sense of the word. Definitely strange and highly probably weird, but not crazy.”
As I watch, she pulls a giant pencil from… her pocket?
“Wait, did I say giant pencil?” I murmur as I stare transfixed. How did that fit in there? It’s about as long as her leg and as think as her wrist. And yet, as if her pocket was Mary Poppin’s mystical bag, the pencil emerged whole.
“Yo, focusing back on me,” she says, snapping her fingers.
My eyes dart back to her face.
“Like I said: you are not crazy. It’s just, I know you haven’t really been doing this ‘writing thing’ in a while.” She adds air quotes and cringes slightly for emphasis. “We’re worried you’ve forgotten how it’s done.”
I blink again. We?
“Stop that—that! Blinking. Once or twice makes sense, but realistically, if you are blinking that much it just looks like you are having a spasm.” Using the pencil, she jabs out toward the computer screen. “There are plenty of other ways to write and describe your surprise, you know, but I suppose that’s why you’re rusty. Your brain is struggling, seeking forgotten, unused words and phrases. That’s why they sent me. I’m here to the rescue.”
“Uh… Who’s they?”
She rolls her eyes and makes to jump from her perch, landing below on the white space next to the flashing blinker.
“The characters.” She makes this sound like this should be obvious. Ha. Duh my butt.
“It has come to our attention that you are ‘planning’—” there go those air quotes again—“NaNo this year and some alarm bells went off. We all sat down for a chat and decided that it was time for an intervention.”
She starts pacing back and forth, the pencil poised over her shoulder like a gun. She walks back and forth a few times and then, just when I think I should break the silence, she turns and points at me with the pencil. “When was the last time you attempted? 2012? 2013? When was the last time that you engaged in sustained writing? Can you remember without hunting back through your folders and documents?”
At my continued silence, she grins in triumph as though she’s won the argument and spins the giant pencil between her hands.
“Still,” I stammer, “I can do this.” My fingers rub against the keyboard as I think of what to say.
So it begins, she thought as she held the pencil over the blank piece of paper. NaNoWriMo... The blank sheet was empty, but full. The possibilities were endless. With the stroke of her pencil she could delve into worlds known and unknown. She stifled a nervous giggle of excitement. The future is yet unwritten, she thought.
“Stop. Just stop. Are you making an allusion to that old Natasha Bedingfield song right now? Real subtle. Who would even catch that these days? That song is so 2004.”
“Well now that you’ve said it, it’s not exactly subtle anymore, is it?” I exhale in exasperation and flex my fingers away from the keyboard.
“Look, don’t get me wrong, I like that song, too, but you’re going about this the wrong way. You’re a bit rusty. You haven’t written a creative story in a while. Can you really develop your characters properly? What about setting? Or plot? You probably can’t even remember how to make a good metaphor or add some vivid imagery—”
“—so why don’t I help? What do you have to lose?”
I don’t know whether that grin spreading across her face should be seen as sincere or more mischievous. She reminds me of my sister when she says that she has a plan.
“What could possibly go wrong?” I ask, the sarcasm sticking like honey.
“Ugh, such a cliché. You’re implying that something will definitely go wrong now. I reject that reality and substitute my own. Relax,” she almost purrs, spinning the pencil in a slow circular motion. “Besides, I won’t give up or leave—which would just end up being more annoying—so you might as well give in and agree to work together with me. Think of it as a fun learning experience. It will be like when you watch movies with the commentary on. You are creating the movie and I’ll be creating the commentary.”
My right eyebrow lifts slightly, betraying my skepticism as we stare each other down. Then I sigh and concede defeat with a nod.
She pumps a fist in the air and stamps the pencil’s eraser against the ground.
“Great! Now tell me what were you thinking. Blah, blah, ‘unwritten possibilities’—” I’m beginning to think she has a thing for air quotes—“and all that, but where was this story heading? What’s the conflict/problem? Oooh! Do we have a villain? I love a good bad guy. There are the sinister, creepy-types, or the ridiculous, but blundering-villains are good too. Or even the misunderstood. Bent on World Domination? Or how about a good revenge story?”
“Well… I’m not really sure at this point. I hadn’t really thought that far ahead yet.”
She flaps her hand at me. “Okay, no worries, we can figure that out later. What about the main characters? Tell me about them.”
Her eyes, which were normal, human-looking eyes, seem to bulge like a frog’s, dwarfing her other facial features.
“Setting?” she squeaks, slumping to the ground as I shake my head. “Are you telling me that you have nothing? No ideas? And yet you are doing NaNo?”
“Hey, I didn’t say I had no ideas. Just not fully formed ideas. I figured I’d play it fast and loose, this year. Like you said, it’s been a while.” I crossed my arms across my chest, recognizing that I was acting defensive despite the truth of her words.
“Still… you should at least have a character to work with.”
“Aren’t you a character?” I challenge.
“Yes, but I’m also part of you—maybe a sliver of ‘Past You’ or ‘Future You.’ Yeah… I’d like to think time travel is a reason for my existence. I don’t fully count as a character. Plus, apparently I am also your guide and mentor.” She shakes her head and then slowly climbs to her feet as she looks back out at me. “Okay, it’s clear we have some work to do, but no matter. There’s nothing wrong with a challenge. Let’s get to work.”
That same mischievous grin returns to her face and I swallow, suddenly nervous. “How do you want to do this?”
“Let’s start with a character, I think. We can meet a few and you can see who best fits your vision… well lack of vision.” She takes her pencil and places the tip at the edge of the margin on page at her feet. With careful precision she starts to drag a line across the screen.
“Mmmk…” I breathe, transfixed as a black line appears, glowing a faint yellow. She reaches the far side of the page and flicks the tip. As the pencil leaves the page, the line yawns open and a bright, warm light shine through the screen. I close my eyes as I’m blinding, bringing my ends up to cover my face. I could feel the warmth enveloping my body, my vision going red beneath my closed eyelids.
I flinch as a hand grabs one of my hands and her voice sounds in my ear. “Oh, and I suppose you can’t really call me your own name. That would get confusing quickly… I’ve always wanted an alias. Hmm… Call me Ryn.”