GISHWHES–A New Adventure

elopusLast year I wrote about my participation in “The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen” hosted by everyone’s favorite prankster angel–Misha Collins. I unfortuanately had one bad experience with people who didn’t get into the spirit of things that took me ages to get over, and between that and time constraints related to my upcoming trip to London (yes, you heard that correctly) I decided not to participate this year. I did, however, intend to follow along on Twitter especially because I wanted to see how the new-found rivalry with William Shatner was going. So at about 4 AM Tuesday morning I remembered that the Hunt was on and went to find a leaked copy of the item list. (Only members get to see the item list, but usually somebody posts a copy on tumblr, which is a godsend when the website crashes, as it did frequently last year.) In so doing I found out about Item 78:

IMAGE. Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus. 59 POINTS

Of course, shortly thereafter I found a post on The Mary Sue about authors being inundated with posts and how both Misha and the participants were all behaving in a self-centered and rude manner by asking. (It later comes out that some participants were behaving horrendously, but everyone I interacted with was the epitome of adorable politeness so I’m confident that the rude ones were a minority whom all GISHWHESeans heartily disown.)

It was 4 AM and I was getting ready to leave to work, and the post annoyed me. (One of my pet peeves is people who are rude to their fans and don’t like getting attention when they’re famous.) So I did one of those things most people have to be drunk to do, but I just have to be sleep deprived. I volunteered to write short stories for GISHWHES team members. I dragged out my author email and I made it public on Twitter. Then I went to work.

The response was AMAZING. I kept tweeting from work but couldn’t actually write or reply to emails until I got home. By the time I did get home (at about 1 PM) I had 27 requests. That was when I discovered the 140 word limit. All my grand plans of writing nice epic 3K stories vanished–but it’s probably all for the best. I don’t think I could have done nearly as many with my crazy work schedule. Still. Between 100-500 would have been nice. Provide some flexibility and all.I knocked out all 27 stories in about three hours, with some time added for procrastination.

Then, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I posted again saying I was still taking requests. Then I went to bed.

Next morning, 4 AM again. I woke up and found that I had EIGHTY SEVEN TWITTER NOTIFICATIONS. I thought for a while I’d left my tab switched to my main feed, because that was rediculous. I hadn’t. Those were all personal notifications of mentions, favorites, and retweets. I spent about half an hour answering responses and questions and telling people to email me. I even knocked out another five stories before leaving for work, almost-but-not-quite-actually-late. When I came home I had another 25 requests waiting. I started writing, and tweeting, and a couple more came in. By bedtime I had knocked them all out, and sent out another call for requests.

Of course, at the time I thought I was working all day Thursday with most of Friday free to catch up when it was really in reverse. But it all worked out in the end. I only had about a dozen requests on Thursday and none at all Friday morning. I wrote a couple of stories anyway and had to auction them off Friday night. Finding teams that didn’t already have Item 78 was becoming difficult!

It wasn’t until Saturday morning that I found out how many other authors were helping out. I had harboured a secret fear that there were just two or three of us and that most of the writing community were reinforcing the belief that we’re all people-hating egotistical jerks who lurk in dark caves and swear at our editors. I was greatly relieved to find that this was not the case in a recap post from one of the participants. I strongly encourage you all to read it. It gives a sort of overview of the sort of unique and amazing experience GISHWHES creates.

Overall it was an amazing experience for me. Just reading the requests made me smile, and the tremendous outpouring of gratitude was truly humbling. When I was tired and annoyed and stuck without a single new idea for the next story I kept at it with all the stubbornness of my breed, because every time I sent out a story I imagined the giddy, sleep-deprived team on the receiving end squealing for joy at having accomplished yet another of Misha’s insane demands. And that really made it all worth it. I believe in karma. It’s engrained thoroughly in our culture that you reap what you sow, give and you will receive in kind, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, etc. Zig Ziggler said that to get what you want you have to help enough other people get what they want.


The stories ended up being more or less serialized. I realized pretty early on that I was going to need to set them in the same story-world, and while the story-world I created was nothing like the one I had planned to create it is eerily similar to the one in which the GISHWHESeans find themselves every summer. It’s nothing compared to the brilliance produced by Hugh Howey (lucky team that scored that one!) but the teams loved them, and that love will keep me going for a long, long time.

I’ve put all the stories up on Google Drive so I can share them with you, and you can share them with your friends. Please do enjoy the insanity. And next year, well, we’ll see.

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