Today was the big day. I got to meet with some other Maine-iac NaNoWriMo writers at Panera Bread in our state's august capitol.
I don't know any of these Maine writers. In fact, I've never even heard of them until this past week as I've haunted the Maine NaNo forum board. I know NOTHING about them except that they're all from Maine and they're all going to attempt 50,000 words toward a novel in the 30 days of November...
So when I got the news of the big central Maine kick-off today at Panera Bread I thought, "Naaaah, I don't know these people. I have no relationship with them. I'm not going. Besides, they'll all have laptops and I'll have to do my writing with pen and paper and I'll feel like a dork - infinitely UNgroovy."
Suddenly a picture came to mind - a picture of the Panera Pastry case - and I found myself emailing "Ken" to tell him I was going to be there. I found out later that Ken was short for Kendra; He was a she.
What was I doing??? What would I wear? Who would watch the kids? Should I bring a notebook? How would I know which people in Panera were "NaNo" people? How would I fit in with "real" writers? Would I select the carrot-walnut muffin or the blueberry scone or the cherry cream-cheese pastry?
I had butterflies in my groovy little tummy all the way to Augusta. I was so worked up I even wore make-up and did my hair. Shocking, I know!
Outfit? Well, I wanted to fit my groovy moniker, but I have no tie-dye. Can you imagine? So I went wth a long jean skirt, black clogs, and a burgundy long-sleeved shirt layered over a deep blue turtleneck. I also wore my blue phrog earrings for a touch of whimsy. Overall I looked quite put together in an LL Beanish sort of way.
Babysitter? GrammaJ. She was THRILLED to have her granddaughters.
Accoutrements? I brought my notes thus far for my novel along with a notebook and comfy pen. I carried it all in a lovely quilted bag my friend Deb made for me. I like to think of it as my writer's bag. I've never actually USED it as a writer's bag, but I like to think of it that way!
How did I locate my fellow writers? Panera was only moderately busy, so I scanned the patrons as I stood in line for my pastries and coffee. There was a group of 8 women. They were all nicely dressed, some had stylish do's they and were obviously having a meeting of some sort. A couple of them also had laptops out.
I wondered how it would feel to join them. I'd walk over purposely with my tray of sweets and coffee, a gregarious smile on my groovy face:
Hi, are you lovely ladies doing NaNoWriMo?
Yes, we are, because we are REAL authors. Some of us make our living with our writing and all of us have been published. We make a habit of writing high quality novels in our spare time.
Then they'd look me up and down scornfully: And who are YOU? Surely YOUR not a writer. You don't even have a laptop! And I suppose you think that tacky plaid shirt/jacket makes you look like a real Mainer? It's obvious your "from away".
And I'd slink away with out even pointing out that the speaker had used "your" instead of "you're" twice and started 2 sentences with "and", defeated before I even started - not a Mainer, not a writer. Maybe I should just sit alone in a corner and eat my pastries by myself. Maybe I should even buy some more pastries, you know, for the kids. *wink, wink*
I was heading for a table when I spied another potential NaNo group. It was only a group of two, but they had laptops and a big pile of books and the red-haired lady facing me had on a kitty ear headband (blue sequinned) and a leather spiked collar. Could she be Ken?
Something inside me said yes and made my reluctant feet head her way. Sure enough, she was. I had found my fellow Maine NaNo-ers!
Ken was hilarious and facinating - worthy to be the SUBJECT of a novel herself. She's 35, but looks much younger. her hair is about as short as mine, but with more layers. Currently she dies it red with one long remnant of a previous mohawk hanging longer and sporting a pretty shade of blondish pink.
She didn't mean to wear the spiked collar today. That was for tomorrow's meeting in Westbrook where she plans to show up in bondage pants and mesh and combat boots, etc. Apparently folks are used to her dressing "creatively" and she wouldn't want to let them down. So we got jeans and cat ears and the Westbrook folks get a different, darker persona.
Ken has written several years worth of Nano, most of which she has won (completed 50,000 words). Accordingly, she is now our liason with the chief high NaNo muckety mucks. This means it is her job to encourage, cajole, shame, bribe and guilt all the central Maine writers into successful writing. She's a fun and quirky lady who lives a somewhat unconventional life. I can't imagine anyone better suited to motivate a bunch of stodgy ole Mainers!
The other gal, Zumie, is a college student at UMA who has won Nano before, even though she is only 20 years old. She is a lovely girl in typical comfy college attire of jeans and a simple, but pretty shirt. She has thick, slighty bushy, longish dark brown hair and a charming smile. She lives at home with her folks and clearly adores her older sister who is an accomplished pianist and writer. She's also very impressed with the fact that her mom (whom she is sure is younger than me. *G* )plays Warcraft rather extensively. Her writings are usually on the lighter side, but she is very proud of the fact that last year's NaNo project has increased to umpteen thousand words (trust Groovy to remember the details) and has become her first "serious" work.
I spent an hour and a half with these two ladies talking about EVERYTHING. I don't know if my time there will help improve my novel, but I do think knowing these ladies and having them dogging me on the 'net will help keep me on track.
They also suggested that I join them (and more of the group) for weekly "write-ins" and "word wars" during November. Part of me is intrigued, but the truth is, I don't think I'd do as well writing in a group setting in a public place - especially when that public place has food and coffee and sweets and people walking around and music. I am highly distractable. Writing in Panera with a bunch of other writers just sounds like recipe for weight gain and word loss to me! ( Besides, they'll all have laptops and I'll have to do my writing with pen and paper and I'll feel like a dork.)