Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year--and a Challenge by Michael Gettel-Gilmartin

Happy New Year, everyone. I can't believe that it's 2018 already, and that Project Mayhem has been in existence for 8 years. That's astounding, and I'd like to thank each and every reader of this blog, and all the writers who have contributed to it over the years. There's a wealth of information and inspiration in our archives, that's for sure.

The turning of the calendar makes most people a bit introspective, I suspect. At the end of each year, I mull over the things that transpired over the past twelve months, for better or for worse, and it gets me thinking about what I could do differently.

For me, 2017 was not a productive year on the writing front. I got sidetracked by all the public negativity, sucked into way too many tweetstorms. I found myself slinking away from the page all too often. I read less fiction too, which is alarming, because good stories are inoculations against all that is crass and cheerless in the world around us. (It's also alarming because I've got a TBR pile about to topple off my nightstand.)

In my ruminations, I did come across an article by David Cain, who writes the blog Getting better about being human. Cain writes about having a "Year of Deepening," a year in which "you don’t start anything new or acquire any new possessions you don’t need."

He goes on:
"No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started.
You improve skills rather than learning new ones. You consume media you’ve already stockpiled instead of acquiring more.
You read your unread books, or even reread your favorites. You pick up the guitar again and get better at it, instead of taking up the harmonica. You finish the Gordon Ramsey Masterclass you started in April, despite your fascination with the new Annie Leibovitz one, even though it’s on sale."
A consumer society, Cain explains, always tempts us to the new thing. In much the same way, when a story becomes too difficult, it's easy to be tempted to try something new. (I am undeniably guilty of this.) That shiny new thing is so much more appealing than the old thing you've been slogging away at, which has long since lost its luster.

I needed this reminder, and so it's with renewed determination that I am making the goal of finishing my latest novel this year. Wish me luck!

The rest of David Cain's blog post, Go Deeper, Not Wider,  can be found HERE.

Do you have any goals for the year ahead? Does going deeper resonate with you? Let me know in the comments--and have a great 2018!


  1. Happy New Year, Michael! I love this post, and the invitation to go deeper. I can't take on the challenge because I know I'll buy more books this year! :p But I did make the resolution to read the unread books I already own, to visit the library more often, and to be more forgiving of myself when I don't work at a neckbreak pace. I'm hopeful for 2018, I can't help myself. I know some great and wonderful things will come to pass. Happy New Year and thanks for the opportunity to be one Project Mayhem contributors <3

  2. I know, Yamile. Book buying is a tough one for me. The new, the new!

    Thanks for being a wonderful contributor to Project Mayhem. We are lucky to have you on our team.

  3. Yes, Michael! This speaks to our living in an "Attention Deficit" society. Whether we has the label or not , the rampant consumerism and overinvolved pace pushes us all to distraction. Perhaps a year of such discipline would only set us up for perceived failure, but maybe baby steps of a month at a time...? Perhaps with the reward of a tiny bit of consumer indulgence before taking on another month?... I think for me, that might be worth a try... However, I know myself all too well. Somewhere in there I'd need to build in some accountability... Perhaps a support group? OPPS!, but isn't that taking on a new project?!������

  4. Yes! I will try to help you as you help me, critique partner. I think you are hard on yourself, but let's cheer to writing The End.

  5. Excellent post and reminder to be grateful for what we've already got :) Thanks, Michael!

  6. Very sage advice...except for the ban on buying books! A new bookshop opened down the way and I have been doling out gift certificates to everyone. So, for me...listen to Michael but remember to support independent bookshops who support us! And, Michael- as a fan, I do like to hear that you are/are soon to be back on the page.

  7. Great post with lots to think about. I love the idea of finding value in what you already own.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!