Posted in Origins

Origins: The NaNoLog

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I teased a bit of this story last week, when I posted the first installment of my NaNoLog, but the full story of me coping with a cross-country move by playing anthropologist has a few more funny and self-deprecating intricacies. Now that you’ve gotten a taste of it, I figured I could do the whole story justice.

As I mentioned last week, in the summer of 2015, I moved cross-country from Texas to Minnesota to start graduate school. It was a huge shift in my career life, obviously, but it was also a blow to my writing life as well. Waco had been the first place where I really made strong friends who were also interested in writing. Together, those friends and I  helped form a year-round writers group. We fangirled (or -boyed) each others’ stories. We talked through plot points and provided advice and, more than anything, kept each other motivated with the sheer force of our interest. I wasn’t sure I could keep the pace of my old writing life up if I left that behind.

So, coming up to November, I hatched a devious plot.

In Waco, my band of writing friends was formed by Wrimos (those who participate in NaNoWriMo), directly following NaNo, as a result of our regional meetups during the event itself. My close friend Deborah and I helped drive this process by taking a volunteer leadership role during NaNo, priming us to help lead the group year-round. I knew that obviously, I couldn’t jump into a leadership role in my new region right off the bat, but I certainly went into NaNo with a desire to know the lay of the land, so to speak. Were there other people there who would want to form a writers’ group? Could I win them over even as a newcomer? How could I make meaningful writing friendships similar to those I’d had in Waco?

On day two, I fell right into a situation more ideal than I could have imagined.

The regional coordinators here in Rochester (called “chieftains” in my NaNoLog) were a friendly bunch. One of them (the “extroverted chieftain”) immediately set out to learn my life story, which I provided as the wheels spun in my head. It took me less than an hour to learn that the two coordinators, in addition to another woman who attended many of the write-ins, already had their own NaNo-derived year-round writers’ group.

As the fireworks exploded in my head, my focus immediately shifted to figuring out how, exactly, I could ensure they’d accept me into their group by the end of NaNo.

The stars managed to align. During November, I was in between lab rotations, which meant I had the time to attend just about every in-person write-in we had that year. For a while, I was even beating both coordinators in attendance. My NaNoLog focuses a bit on my determination to gain admittance into the “Inner Sanctum,” which I passed off to my old writing buddies back home when, in reality, it was a pretty carefully curated plan. The NaNoLog was a way to bridge the gap between the old and new territories– writing about my new “home” while I still considered my old home “home.”

So, did I make it into the “Inner Sanctum” and find the writing companionship I so desperately craved? Stay tuned for installment 2 of the NaNoLog next week!

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