I bought myself the t-shirt. No, really! There’s a winner’s t-shirt that falls squarely into the category of “Things I Don’t Buy,” because why spend $20 on a t-shirt when any Goodwill store is filled with dozens that would cost $3? But I did buy it, because when I copied the text into the validator and got my little winner’s badge, I felt pretty proud of myself. A t-shirt felt like the least I deserved.

Also, as t-shirts go, I thought that this one might open me up to interesting conversations. One of the things that I’ve discovered in my travels is that certain t-shirts simply invite interactions with strangers. Fair warning: do not ever wear an Ohio State Buckeyes t-shirt unless you really want to chat with people about football. Ohio State fans are serious! Possibly the same would be true of any football shirt, but the only one I’ve ever worn is from Ohio, so I can only attest to the Ohio fans.

Moving on: the good news is that I wrote 50K words in a month, about which I have Thoughts. It got hard. It got really hard. It started feeling filled with things I had to do (like find an ending); mistakes I had made (a whole pointless middle section that is complicated and contradictory); and duplications of things I had already said. The urge to edit was, at times, irresistible. And I did not entirely succeed in resisting it.

I had some particularly bad days right around Thanksgiving, including one where I did nothing but play solitaire from early morning until the middle of the night. It was like binge-eating, where you know you ought to stop, you know you’re not making healthy choices, and yet you just keep going. I kept looking at the file for 30 seconds and then opening solitaire again. Again and again and again. It was not a good day.

But I definitely had more fun writing, more joy in the (ridiculous, absurd) story, than I’ve had in years. And while it’s true that writing is work and all jobs have hard parts (as Patricia Wrede says, “The only thing one can do about it is slog through the sloggy bits“), it was a lot more fun to write without caring if anyone would ever read my words. Which doesn’t mean that I’m not going to share — honestly, Cici is a riot, she makes me laugh and she absolutely fulfills my once-stated writing goal of simply letting other people share my daydreams — but I do think I should get myself a real job so that I don’t have to care when Cici only earns $50/month. (That’s how much A Lonely Magic has averaged over its lifetime. Not exactly a number that supports a food-eating habit, much less a roof-using, shower-taking, aging-dog-caretaking habit!)

That real job, however, is not going to happen until I do a few more things I have planned, like head to California and spend some time with my friend S, visit my friend P in Seattle for her birthday next May, spend one more summer eating blueberries at my brother’s house, and write the sequel to A Lonely Magic. Eventually, though, real job. On my list.

Meanwhile, though, the best of November. Honestly, what happened to this month? It zoomed by at the speed of light, or perhaps of an interstellar space craft complete with wine bar. Thanksgiving was super nice: I cooked, so I got to have gluten-free pumpkin pie and it was delicious. I got to see several friends, stayed in four different driveways and one state park, plus spent the past week house-sitting. In a real house. With a bathtub. I haven’t taken nearly as much advantage of the kitchen as I thought I would (apart from cooking Thanksgiving dinner in it) but when C gets her water bill next month, I expect it will reflect the absolutely delightful number of baths I’ve taken.

But I have to say that the best of this month didn’t take place in reality, but in the world of my imagination. The best place I visited was the Guanyasar Exhibit on Tirquilk, “one of those in-between sorts of planets.” And now — despite having reached my 50K words — I’m going to go back there, because the story is not finished, even though the month is almost gone, which means I have more words to write!