Over the past five days in Alaska, we have seen black bears, bald eagles, otters, and humpback whales.
More importantly, Chris Baty, Grant Faulkner, and I have seen and met many Alaskans who are very excited about NaNoWriMo. We’re here on a mission to get people to share their stories, and we can hardly believe just how many there are up here.
When Amy Marshall, the librarian from Craig, AK (and the brilliant grantwriter responsible for our trip), first told us about the idea for this journey, we didn’t quite know what we were in for. “Talk with the locals about NaNoWriMo and writing” was pretty much the gist. Craig had just become part of the Alaska OWL video conference network, and we would be one of the first groups to utilize it, bringing our unique blend of inspiration, encouragement, and moose jokes.
During our workshops, we’ve met many wonderful writers—both in person and at other small libraries via video conferencing—with stories to tell. From the town librarian in Hollis (population: 80) with a children’s book project, to the unstoppably funny mother-and-teen-daughters writing team in Craig, to the longtime wood carver who had a vision she’d be published someday, these are incredible people we never would have met otherwise. And a few are even Wrimos already; they’re sharing their novels as part of the Book Doctors’ Pitchapalooza events, which have been going on concurrently.
Aside from seasonal fishermen, people from “the Lower 48” (and yes, I will keep saying that when I return) rarely come to this part of Alaska. Because of this, we’ve been treated incredibly well by our hosts and new friends. Who welcomes random creative-writing nonprofit folks to the town salmon feast? And takes them on a fantastic bear-sighting trip? And brings Chris Baty’s beloved Haribo gummy bears to an impromptu barbecue? Alaskans, that’s who.
We are so thankful for our time so far, and can’t wait to get acquainted with even more novelists (both would-be and current), and their stories.