Monday, May 2, 2011

The A to Z Experience

I think it's safe to say that when I signed up for the A to Z Challenge I had NO IDEA what I was getting into. I was still incredibly new to this blog when I signed up. I didn't really know what I was doing here in the blogosphere and I didn't know anyone. I went crazy signing up for blogfests all over the place including the A to Z. I just wanted to meet other blogging writers and this seemed like as good a way as any. When I signed up there were about 225 entries. Then that linky list just kept climbing and climbing and I began to panic. Would I be able to meet and form friendships if I was simply one out of a thousand?

Another obstacle quickly reared its head when I realized that it had completely slipped my mind when I signed up that I was extremely pregnant and due in early April. (I know. I'm a terrible mother.) When I remembered I considered dropping out but after consideration decided to forge ahead anyway. I was going to write up a whole bunch of posts in advance of having the baby so I wouldn't have to worry about it later. Well, I failed to do that before the baby was born on March 30th and the rest of the month ended up being a hectic and sleep deprived nightmare.

Some days I completely failed to get posts up. Though I did cover every letter by grouping them up when I was able to sit down and make a post. I'm not sure whether it helped that I had chosen a theme in advance. Perhaps it would have been easier if I could have just written more randomly rather than racking my brains to come up with something intelligent to say on my chosen topic when I was going on a few hours sleep. I'll never know. But I enjoyed the exploration of worldbuilding that I chose to pursue. Though sometimes it seemed more of a history lesson on Ancient Egypt than an exercise in fantasy worldbuilding. What can I say, I love Egypt. I plan to continue posting occasionally on worldbuilding in general and my worldbuilding in particular. It's one of my favorite parts of being a fantasy writer.

My strategy, which was mostly successful, was to go through the linky list quickly in the early days of the challenge and skim over all the blogs to decide which ones I was interested by and wanted to follow. Then during the rest of the challenge I just relied on my blog feed to take me to the blogs I wanted to read. Somehow I still managed to miss tons of great blogs though I've found some from other bloggers' blogrolls and from following comments and such. I've built up a much bigger list of blogs to follow, but I'm a fast reader and I like content so I'm happy.

However, most of my time spent at the computer, other than writing my posts, was spent with the new baby in my arms, so commenting on all the great new blogs I found was difficult. I hope with less posts coming out everyday I'll be able to comment more and get to know all you fantastic bloggers better. That's what I am still really hoping for out of this Challenge, to make some friendships in the blogosphere.

I've learned a lot from this experience.

First of all, I've learned that I never want to commit to posting daily again. It's way too much for me to keep up with.Most people seem to post on a schedule, but I'm not sure if I can do that. Partly because my four kids make life unpredictable and partly because I prefer to post when I have inspiration for a post, and not when I'm forcing myself to write something. But this blog is still new. Perhaps as I go along and things shake out I'll find a routine I can live with.

Second, I've learned I need to be more interesting and engaging for readers. Perhaps I need to let more of my personality come through. I'm kind of afraid to do that, because my personality tends toward the sarcastic and cynical. Also opinionated. I'm very vocal in my opinions. I wish I was one of those always optimistic, always sweet and encouraging people, but I'm not. I'm just not. Sigh.

Third, I should make a real effort to reply to all comments on my posts. Originally I had been unsure if this was worth it since I saw several bloggers say they are way to busy to go back and see if their comment was replied to. But now I've seen plenty of other successful bloggers who do respond to all comments. And I know I like it when my comments are responded to. So this is now a no-brainer.I just need to find some hands free time.

In addition to what I learned, which is always invaluable, I gained a bunch of new followers. I broke the 100 mark during April, only a couple months after starting this blog, which is very exciting. Hello, followers new and... relatively old. I hope you like it here and decide to stay! I promise I'll try to make the journey enjoyable.

All in all, a positive if stressful month. Thank you to everyone who hosted the Challenge. See you next year!


  1. You learned something about yourself along the way. And you did all this just after having a baby? I'm impressed! It's done and you can relax now. Be sure to grab the Challenge badge and award for your blog!

  2. Nothing wrong with cynical and sarcastic. Unless that was me being sarcastic ;D

  3. There's always a niche for some sarcasm. ;)

  4. Alex, relax? What is that? I know of no such thing called "relax". ;)

    Taryn and L.G., my experience is that sarcasm gets you in trouble. People tend to see it as maliciousness. Not that it's ever stopped me.

  5. I vote for sarcastic and cynical! Congrats on the accomplishment! Especially with your challenges.

  6. Hi,

    First off, congrats on new babs!

    Good to meet you, even though I'm a drop-out from A-Z. Confesses didn't post half the time. ;) My excuse a WIP (latest historical)beckoned, characters screaming for attention, plus the garden beckoned. Basically the challenge was wrong time of year for moi: Winter would have suited better. That said, I'm still doing the list in search of fellow writers!

    Re cynical etc., hee hee, join the club.


  7. Hey Sarah,
    I really enjoyed finding out about Egypt, look forward to what else you blog about.
    Moody Writing

  8. Hello...Congrats on the new baby...!
    Also well done in completing the challenge..

  9. Definitely nothing wrong with sarcasm and cynicism.

    Congratulations on the new baby. I can't even imagine attempting this challenge with a newborn to contend with so major kudos to you for completing it!

  10. Thank you all. Yeah, doing this with a new baby was pretty insane. But he is a very good boy. I guess there must be a niche for the sarcastic and cynical after all. Perhaps I needn't worry so much. :)

  11. I don't think any of us knew what we were getting into. LOL

  12. Maybe there's a place for sarcasm and cynicism? What have I always said? I like my women I like my tea: hot and bitter.

  13. Congrats on the new baby! That's quite an accomplishment to give birth then blog every day.


  14. Congrats on the birth of your baby! I know it's a month overdue. I'm finding that I need to go with a schedule for blogging. I really can't keep up with a daily. I think I may do a twice a week schedule.

    By the way, you had a very good reason for not keeping up with the Blog Challenge.

  15. Stopping by to say hi to a fellow A-Zer! Hope you had as much fun as I did.

  16. I missed visiting during the Challenge. Good to meet you. Congrats on finishing. I’m looking forward to next year!

  17. First-CONGRATULATIONS on your baby!!! I am amazed you could do anything AT ALL after that!

    Second-I totally support being yourself. I think that is the ONLY way this thing is sustainable. I debated long and hard, as... I'm sort of a nut, but I really want people to take my fiction seriously, but in the end... it is YOU your own self that will draw people compatible with you... it will be the best experience for all involved if you just let you be you. The ADDED bonus, I happen to believe, is that by writing AS YOU in your OWN VOICE, you find your most natural fiction voice, too...

    So well done for surviving and keep it up!

  18. Thanks Hart, that means a lot coming from someone with your experience.

  19. Sarcastic and cynical is awesome!! I'm that way myself ;) The way I see it, you SHOULD be yourself (while being respectful of others, at least the ones who deserve it :P), and if people don't like who you are, too bad for them!

    I too am not fond of posting on a schedule...I don't like having a plan for what I am going to post on which day of the week. Obviously the A-Z was different, as there was always a light at the end of the tunnel - I knew it'd end eventually. LOL. And blogfests are different too. I spent MOST of March doing blogfests. That was pretty full-on in itself! But overall, I don't like to tie myself and my own ideas for blog posts to any particular structure/schedule. I think it works well for other bloggers, and I like a lot of the regular features other blogs have...but it's just not me. And true to my philosophy up there, I don't want to be something or someone I'm not, even on my blog. ;)

  20. Blog challenges AND a baby?!!! And I was feeling sorry for me! Congratulations on getting so much accomplished.

    Personally, I think every keyboard should have a sarcasm button -- along with a special icon for all the social networks, it would make things so much simpler.

    I'm a new blogger, too and the commenting on the comments thing has been a puzzler ... especially during the challenge ... but it'll all work out, I'm sure.

  21. Congrats on your new little one! The blogosphere will wait patiently while you enjoy your baby! Writing on a schedule is for irresponsible moms like me who are tired of hearing her 4 kids argue so leave them to it in the play room and go work upstairs! :) Congrats on finishing the challenge as well!

  22. Your baby boy and I share a birthday on March 30th and we have many others like anna sewell who were born on this great date ;-). I am going back to read your A-Z as I love egypt though have never been there. Congrats on finishing especially under the circumstances and thanks for visiting xx

  23. Congratulations on the birth of your baby! Awww, such sweet (though sleep-deprived) days! I remember my own fondly.

    Thanks for visiting my blog! Looking forward to getting to know you!

  24. Opinionated is good. Who wants a steady diet of sweet and accommodating? That would get dull pretty quickly.

    Congrats on your new baby! The fact that you took on and handled the April thing with a newborn and three other kiddos at home speaks volumes. I'll definitely be back to read your cynical, sarcastic, opinionated self. ;O)

  25. I have no idea if I'm cynical but I can be quite sarcastic. It's fun! I think you deserve a big congrats for doing the challenge with a new baby! I don't have kids of my own but my older sister has two so I know how much work they are.

  26. Congratulations on your baby :)

    I've tried to post on a schedule before but aside from the a to z challenge I haven't had much luck with that. Good luck with figuring out what works for you.


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