Not only refilling the well, but digging a new one entirely… GISHWHES 2014

“I regret nothing…except the things I didn’t get to do.” — post-GISHWHES motto.

And another GISHWHES (Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen) staggered to a close after a week of intense play, with many thousands of members world-wide compiling their items (nearly 200 possible by the end!) and uploading them to the submissions portal by the deadline late last night (very late, if you were the UK or Europe).   If there was someone who was not staggering, slightly delirious and impossibly happy, by the end, they probably weren’t playing hard enough.


(Aside: Misha, we need to talk about that submissions portal.  It would kill your tech people to create a confirm message when an item goes through?  C’mon, please?)

I’ve already discussed what I get out of GISHWHES personally, and took on the Midweek Unpleasantness.   

So how do I feel at the end?

Exhausted, Exhilarated, and deeply Emotional.  And the latter two are due entirely to to my fellow participants, both official and otherwise.

Even though I don’t think we have a chance of winning (tho we made a damn good showing) I have to say that my team is awesome.  Not only because we threw ourselves into the hunt with enthusiasm and good cheer, and not only because we had amazingly talented people, although that didn’t hurt.  My team is awesome because from the very start we were working like a team.

It wasn’t “okay, I’ll get this and you get that” and then disappearing for a week.  It was “Who needs help?” and “if you do X I can manage Y.”  It was checking the list and communicating and co-ordinating and cheerleading.

And when we failed at some thing – as we did, often enough – the failure was shrugged off.  Nobody got beat up over it, nobody was allowed to beat themselves up over it.

So as far as I’m concerned?  Aces all around.

And then there are the other team members who reached out across team lines to help where they could (and accepted help when they needed it).  And the non-players who stepped up and offered their time and energy, even when they had no idea what the final result would be.  And even the people who sat on the sidelines and cheered us on, and waited to see what the hell we’d been up to.

And if you don’t think think those experiences are worth the sleep deprivation and the occasional mockery from clueless outsiders?  You’re so very, very wrong.

GishBrochureP1 GishBrochureP2

And how does my team feel?  What did they learn?

In their own words: That vanity is pointless – it’s better to be a mess and having fun than perfectly made-up and uncomfortable.  That when you throw yourself into a project, shyness and introversion are less of a barrier than you’d believed, previously.  That foam art is difficult, but drinking your practice is delicious.

That sitting by and liking or commenting on something isn’t enough – you have to get out and MAKE the thing, make the change. And that getting up changes the world.  That the strangers next door might be your new best friends. That commiserating and plotting with new friends in another time zone is the best cure for fucking something up.  And that – in a world where war, greed, and hatred take the headlines ever day, it’s possible to – one person and one team and one GISHWHES at a time – bring joy, instead.

Not bad for one week out of the year, huh?

And now there is the inevitable and aptly-named GISHWHES hangover, when we go back to the mundane and more ordered schedule of Life.  Except – and our newbies will learn this – once you’ve participated, it’s very hard to go back to who you were, and you don’t want to.  This is what I talked about in earlier posts, the sense of  exhilaration and freedom, about knowing firsthand the creativity that can flow when you throw the sense of “must behave” and “must color within the lines of expectation” for an entire week, with the full support of your team and community behind you.  The knowledge that – if you make an effort – you can be abnosome.

Only now we try to do that woven into regular meals and sleep…

See you next year, GISHWHES!  Team Inevitable_Innuendo will be there.


About Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne is a recovering editor-turned-novelist, with an Endeavor Award, a Nebula nomination, another Endeavor award nomination and a Washington State Book Award nomination under her belt. Her most recent series is the award-winning "Devil's West" trilogy, starting with SILVER ON THE ROAD, and her same-universe story collection, WEST WINDS' FOOL, AND OTHER STORIES OF THE DEVIL'S WEST. The novella GABRIEL'S ROAD was published by Book View Cafe on April 30th, 2019. Her Patreon, featuring original fiction, writing advice, and original Rants, is at Learn more at, where you can sign up for her quarterly newsletter.


Not only refilling the well, but digging a new one entirely… GISHWHES 2014 — 3 Comments

  1. Speaking as a member of Laura Anne’s team, I second everything she said. Mostly I’m looking back and trying to see how I can do things better next year.

    And ultimately it’s a place for folks to get together and have fun. The world can always use more of that….


    • Grateful and blessed to be on Team Inevitable Innuendo. Met great new friends, found out that shared insanity is beneficial to the heart, spirit and mind, and best of all–Scrappy got adopted! [will post more about that later when I have time].

  2. It was terrifying and exhilarating and crazymaking and insane and did I mention terrifying?

    Why yes, I’ll be participating next year.