Nolan currently attends Oberlin College where he studies creative writing. Prior to this month he lived in Buenos Aires, where he studied architectural history and was often misunderstood. He mostly works for publishers and public radio stations. He helped teach a journalism workshop at 826LA last summer. The staff at 826LA may wonder why he hasn’t been around in awhile.
When I knew I was going to spend some time in New York, I was inclined to get in contact. I worked for McSweeney’s a few summers ago, and I’m attracted to the silliness and spirit that unite a lot of Eggers-spearheaded projects.
2. What’s your favorite part of volunteering at 826NYC?
I love the way I have to keep my head down when I’m in the basement so I don’t hit it on anything… kidding! I enjoyed all the hands-on work I got to do—making hollowed out books, assembling the vending machine in the front, creating designs for products. At 826LA I liked tutoring kids, but it was nice to take a break from that and do more behind the scenes work.
I was thinking the other day about why I like working with younger writers so much. I think when you’re younger and learning the nooks and crannies of language, there is a disconnect between lived experience and the words used to express it. Most adults are pretty good at accurately connecting words with experience, but accuracy is so boring! Even though I attend college and study creative writing, I certainly wouldn’t find work there as shocking and original as what kids come up with.
3. What do you do when you’re not at 826NYC?
I love to read about architecture, especially looking at the ways it can be political. Though architecture is often linked with fine art, I think it is really something very pragmatic! I make lots of artists’ books and zines. I eat lots of bread and then mope about feeling bloated. I jog and listen to loud Tropicalia music.
4. What advice would you give a new volunteer?
A huge part of teaching the writing process is talking things out. If a kid is getting frustrated with what they’re writing, take a break and ask questions about what drew them to the topic, alternative paths the topic could take, etc. Often the best way to tackle something is to approach it from the side.
5. What are your super powers?
I can fold myself up quite compactly on airplanes. Sometimes I can tell where Spanish speakers are from based on their accent. When I look into your eyes I can occasionally know what you’re thinking.