Recalibrating, Resurrecting…60 in 60 Resumes

In a few minutes I’ll post the next installment of the 60 in 60—covering the Penguin Great Ideas series—after a delay of almost a year. The project, looking back at it now, was insane. I was going to read one of 60 small books a day for 60 days and blog about one each day for 60 straight days. It didn’t quite work out that way. First, I faltered by allowing myself weekends free. Then it got off schedule in more significant ways, before grinding to a halt.

I’m glad it ground to a halt. It had become one of many brain-numbing tasks, and the initial rather stupid thrill of “how long can I keep juggling all of this” had faded into a dull ache of “why am I doing all of this?”

Now, today, I’m engaging the 60 in 60 for a different reason: because I want to slow down. I want to reconnect with reading books, after so many months of being involved with the process of having my own books brought out into the world.

I stopped writing on this blog and logged out of facebook in part to find the time to think about things, but also to read—and to read books not slated for formal review somewhere. I re-read Roberto Bolano’s 2666, not in the kind of ridiculous skimming speed read filled with interruptions and gaps that marked the first time, but taking a couple of days off just to read it for many hours in a row. What a novel idea.

The fact is, if I have the choice, I would much rather spend the majority of my time in the real world than in the virtual world. The virtual world, if I spend too much time there, irritates me almost pathologically, saps my strength, and stresses me out. It can make me someone I don’t like very much. So, once again, I’m trying hard to rearrange my life so that most of what I do gives me and my loved ones a sense of peace and of happiness.

Spending time with Ann makes me happy. Writing stories and books makes me happy. Editing projects and collaborations make me happy. Oddly enough, resurrecting the 60 in 60 also makes me happy. A lot of the rest of it doesn’t make me happy at all. So I’m going to try not to do it.

Part of this recalibrating means you may see slightly fewer posts on this blog, but what you do find will hopefully be more personal or more interesting and involving. Or silly, or fun—who knows?—but far fewer “Hey–here’s mah book, lookit this!” posts.

I’m also going to be reading this book, and writing about it here every once in awhile, because it fits nicely with 2666, and, well, I feel like it…


  1. Drax says

    Good! Great! Awesome. Go Jeff, go! Or should I say, “Slow, Jeff, slow… make it count.” Your daily posts are always instructive and entertaining, but I’m sure the required impetus can make one crazy. Looking forward to the days and weeks ahead…

  2. Ennis Drake says

    I decided this year, after a great deal of thought (and not without some consultation of BookLife), to work without an internet presence. Very liberating. I’ve also forbidden myself from using the net as a research tool (as a short-term experiment) — restricting myself to those texts available at local libraries and bookstores; also quite liberating, and a tool in itself for encouraging a more organic growth process in regard to my conceits. So, er, cheers to long walks, long talks, and the carving of time to savor what’s important.

    BTW, I picked up a used copy of Madden’s “Revising Fiction”, and have come to wonder how I ever wrote without it. Which brings me to a question: You posted about a book sometime last year, or at the tail-end of 08 . . . something like A Map of the Imagination? I looked but couldn’t find the post again. Do you know what book I’m talking about?

  3. Transfiguring Roar says

    Good to see that you will be slowing down a bit, Jeff. You’re a very hard worker.