What PWN Was Obsessed With in 2022 …
It has become a year-end tradition to ask our Project Write Now team what captivated them throughout the year. What did they read, listen to, watch, eat, or do outside of class that kept them engaged and inspired?
Here’s what they said …
Jennifer Chauhan, co-founder and executive director of Project Write Now, said: “I have always loved walking outside, but this past September I made the commitment to walk every single day outside for one year (as I write this, I’m on day 76!). Wow–what a difference daily walking has made in my life. I wake up excited to breathe in the fresh air, say hello to my tree friends, and find inspiration in the messages revealed to me. On my walks, I also listen to meditations (on Insight Timer), podcasts (Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us and Glennon Doyle’s We Can Do Hard Things), music (so into Brandi Carlile right now), and audiobooks. One that I’ve listened to recently that has tempered my “need-to-be-productive-all-the-time” self is Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto, by Tricia Hersey, a call-to-action to slow down and embrace rest for its healing, restorative power. My walks have become my own personal “rest is resistance” practice.
Songwriting instructor Mimi Cross said: “I took a deep dive into Normal People: the book, the TV show (on Hulu), and the soundtrack. If you want to explore the soundtrack, check out NME’s article ‘Normal People’ soundtrack: all the songs played on Sally Rooney’s hit drama.”
Lauren DeFelice, our outreach teaching assistant and new book inc intern, said: “When I found myself hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, I realized I am simply captivated by how big the world is from my tiny fractal of experience. Did I realize at Mastodon Peak that I forgot my water bottle in the car? Yes. Did I also shout every profanity when I nearly stepped on a diamondback rattlesnake thicker than my arm? Also yes. But you can’t have a beautiful Mojave sunset on Hemingway Trail without a few rattlesnakes along the way. There’s so much to learn in life, and I am endlessly excited by that fact. I hope to keep learning next year, too, and I hope to continue taking chances on me.”
Our Get Unstuck Retreat leader and writing instructor, Gay Edelman, said: “My friend Paula turned me on to a show, Resident Alien, that had my husband and me laughing uproariously as we binge-watched through the two seasons. The show is quirky, fun, and very original. What I loved best was watching this guy from another planet learn to pass as human. Hilarious! And very much like the work I’m doing myself, learning about being human. Though I’m not from another planet. As far as I know. Also, I’m captivated by avocados! I eat in a very specific, disciplined way, a plan that doesn’t include the glorious lumpy-skinned fruit. This year, I decided to go a little crazy and add in the occasional avocado. And guacamole! Why wasn’t I informed? I skip the chips and eat it with a spoon. Best guac in my town, Red Bank NJ: El Señor Pepper.”
Tina Goodyear, who will be book inc’s 2023 Memoir Incubator Peer Artist Leader, said: “This past year, I became captivated by several things; the first was Project Write Now! I credit Jen Gaites and Jen Chauhan for reigniting my writing fire, and I am so honored to serve on PWN’s board. Before PWN saved me, I had a bit too much free time in the beginning of the year, so I developed two other ‘captivations’: a productive one—a crossword puzzle obsession—and a somewhat troublesome one—true crime podcasts àla Dateline, Motive for Murder, and 48 Hours … and I wonder why I can’t sleep! Maybe I will be captivated by sleep in 2023.”
Memoir instructor and book inc Peer Artist Leader Jennifer Gaites said: “I am obsessed with the National Parks Service Instagram account. The images are usually pictures of beautiful scenery or wildlife—a welcome change from pouty lips and look-at-me photos—but I’m really there for the captions. There are some talented writers behind the scenes at the National Park Service! The text is informational, clever, and funny. Who knew the National Parks Service had such a great sense of humor?”
Courtney Harler, PWN’s Debut Review cohost and writing instructor, said: “One of my favorite books of the year was The Man Who Could Move Clouds by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. I don’t read many memoirs, but I want to read more in this particular style. I also loved the novel Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique, among others. I’m currently captivated by The Best American Short Stories 2022 and The Best Short Stories 2022: The O. Henry Prize Winners. Both anthologies are reinvigorating my interest in the short story form.”
Our program coordinator, writing instructor, and heart of PWN Lisa Hartsgrove said: “I attended Pride in Asbury Park again this year, an event I almost never miss. Though it was far from my first Pride event, this year felt new and special. This was the first time a significant other ever joined me in this celebration. I didn’t know how much that meant to me until the moment we were standing together, watching the rainbow parade, and I felt a hand reach into mine. He saw me how I saw myself, and he squeezed love between my fingers. I’ve had a lot of starts and stops in my writing this year, but this moment inspired me for a very long time. Look, even now, six months later, I’m still writing about it!”
Liz Jannuzzi, our operations and communications manager, said: “I don’t know what it says about me, but I’ve rediscovered ER, the medical drama that ran from 1994-2009, the show that launched George Clooney’s career. Although my husband suspects a crush on George Clooney, that’s not why I’m enthralled by the show. When I first started rewatching it, it was like being reunited with old friends. And then, of course, there’s the humanity that takes place in an ER. Major and minor dramas take place not only with the patients and doctors but also with the entire hospital staff. When I went to the ER in October for a pain that led to my gall bladder removal, I remarked to the intake nurse, ‘This is nothing like the show ER.’ And she laughed. But really it was! Two nurses were flirting. The surgeons I met with were arrogant. There was a cop hanging around, waiting for his detainee to get checked out before he would drag him off to jail. It was just missing George Clooney.”
book inc’s Novel Incubator co-leader Céline Keating said: “I’ve been in the process of moving this past year from New York City to Bristol, RI, a lovely coastal town I’ve known for a while because of friends and family. But it’s only recently that I learned of its appalling history in the slave trade, through the documentary film Traces of the Trade. I’ve been obsessed with researching Bristol’s past this past year, and that history gave me the idea for the novel I’ve been working on in the Novel Incubator.”
Co-founder and book inc director Greg Phelan told us: “Drafting a new novel this year (as part of the Novel Incubator), I listened to Sharon Van Etten’s new album, “We’re Been Going About This All Wrong,” 1,147 times (over 5,000 minutes). Something about it got me right into drafting mode, so I figured don’t fix what’s not broken. Once I got to revising, I shifted to listening to the Arctic Monkey’s new album, The Car (up to 209 plays, but I’ve just started the revising process). My favorite books this year include Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark, and Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. I also really enjoyed Bono’s new memoir, Surrender, on audiobook, as not only does he read his work, but he also sings, and does amazingly accurate and funny impressions of everyone from Bill Clinton to Johnny Cash.”
Michele Prestininzi, our picture book and young adult guru, said: “This year we downsized homes, so it’s been a year of purging and purging and moving. After 20 years of stockpiling, purging needed to be done. With every trip to Good Will and furniture donation, our clutter and excess disappeared. I may have over-rotated with the purging, but I’ll take the shortage of spoons because everything we do have is finally organized in place. The whole ‘less is more’ adage is true. Who knew? On another note, I’ve been recently captivated by the Wednesday Adams Netflix series. The plotting is so clever. So many twists and turns. For all the Adams Family fans out there, check it out.”
- Reading: My toddler and I enjoy reading picture books together. We’re currently loving the recommendations from @thekidlitmama, including I Am Quiet by Andie Powers.
- Eating: HelloFresh meal kits have been both a treat and a relief on busy weekdays!
- Doing: I’ve been making sticker collages and sending out letters to friends.”
Maria Wood, our newest outreach instructor and CringeFest organizer said: “This year included a huge milestone birthday for me and I became completely obsessed with celebrating my Big Five-Oh what seemed like every five minutes. I literally did all of my favorite things with all of my favorite people. I celebrated in Vermont, New York, Florida, New Jersey, and Jamaica, which was a PERFECT cap to the traveling tour of celebrations. My experiences this year highlighted the importance of surrounding yourself with good people. The ones who love you, value you, and show up no matter what hoops they have to jump through. Going forward, I will continue to be captivated by creating memories and laughing with my favorite people. And I will be grateful. Every. Single. Moment.”