On June 2nd 2012, I did something I had never had the chance to do before. I met, spoke to and had a photograph taken with one of my idols:
The one and only Master of the University Mr. Chris Baty.
Chris Baty (for anyone not in the know) is the wonder/madness behind NaNoWriMo. The first ever NaNoWriMo took place amongst Chris and his friends. But it wasn’t long before it spread to the Internet and Chris became Lord and Master of the NaNoWriMo world.
The amazing people of London NaNoWriMo arranged a meet and greet with Chris during his visit to the UK. I had got back from Greece two days earlier and could not be more excited! I even had my mum mail my NaNoWriMo hoodie down from Manchester (which I ended up taking off ’cause it was too warm inside the pub…)
When he walked into the area of the pub we’d hired out, there was a moment of stunned silence from everybody. The party on the table across from us were probably wondering what they were missing! I was a little awestruck and, I’ll admit, I’m pretty sure I was trembling. I think part of me hadn’t accepted I was meeting someone I genuinely admired until he walked into the room.
Chris was absolutely charming. He was so friendly and laid back and genuinely interested in everyone’s story. He made sure he spoke to each person at the meeting individually (and there was a fair few of us, including visitors down from Manchester and Bath!), asking them about their NaNo history, their writing and generally just getting to know everyone. He moved seats each time so he was sat next to the person he was speaking to, giving them his full attention. It was brilliant and not something he had to make the effort to do but it was fully appreciated that he did.
When speaking to me, he pointed out that I had been receiving emails from him for ten years before meeting him in person. I hadn’t really thought about it, but he was right. I probably have a novel in emails from him! (If I could access my old email account, I’d totally check… in fact, can I access my old emails? *checks* No, the account’s been deleted.) He thanked me for being an ML in 2011 and was amazed I was into my tenth year, suggesting I had some sort of celebration for my NaNo-versary. I may treat myself to something exciting when I finish my novel this year! Not sure what yet, though. Something awesome. (Suggestions welcome!) He asked about my writing and editing and we talked about NaNoWriMo over the years. He was so easy to talk to. It was a lovely 10 minutes!
Chris is an absolute star and it meant a lot to me to meet him. I can’t even put it into words but if you’ve ever met someone you’ve admired for a long time, you know how I felt. NaNoWriMo has brought so much into my life and I couldn’t imagine it never being there. Without Chris, NaNoWriMo may never have happened; I wouldn’t have met so many wonderful people, I wouldn’t be in the process of writing a trilogy right now and you guys wouldn’t be reading my blog.
Thank you to the London MLs for organising such a memorable afternoon. I feel privileged to be a part of your team this year.
And thank you, Chris! For everything. Hopefully one day I’ll make it to The Night of Writing Dangerously and meet you again.
I have full plans to fangirl and send a copy of that photograph to Chris for him to sign and return to me. Even two copies! In case he wants to keep one.
[Unrelated sidenote alert! Oh, and today I learnt that not only did Patrick Stewart do a speech at my sister’s graduation (he’s the Chancellor of the university) but she friggin’ MET him in a restaurant last night and had a photograph taken with him and her friends! She met Professor X! *jealous*]