New Year – New A to Z Challenge!
January marks the one year anniversary of my blog, Flash Fiction; and the April A to Z Challenge of 2011 is at least partly responsible for my still being here to celebrate. (In a virtual sense, of course. The Challenge didn't keep me from dying of Woompah disease or leaping from a high-rise.)
Starting a blog is never easy, and when I began I had no online “presence” whatsoever; no Facebook page, no Twitter account, and no blogger friends with whom to commiserate. It was a lonely place at first, although I somehow picked up a handful of followers who offered support and encouragement right from the start. I can't thank them enough.
One day I stumbled on a mention of the A to Z challenge while randomly surfing blogs. I had no idea what a blogfest entailed, but it seemed like a good way to both meet people and to shift my writing into high gear. Although a few people mentioned outlining or writing posts ahead of time, or choosing a theme, I wanted to up the ante for myself. (I really do like to make things difficult.) I wouldn't just post something everyday, it had to be an original fiction or poetry piece. And I wouldn't auto-post or write anything ahead of time; nope, I had to climb out of bed and come up with something that morning.
Then I did a dumb thing. I put it in writing. People took note. And it dawned on me that I couldn't possibly go through with it. And yet...perfect strangers told me that I could. Others expressed the same feeling of “sign-up remorse”. I discovered that by linking up for the challenge, I had joined a community of warm, funny, talented writers/bloggers who were just as interested in reading and helping others as they were in promoting their own blogs. Maybe more so.
I completed the challenge by posting each day with the proper letter, although I failed my own rules at least twice by posting pics with a few words instead of stories. I often generated ideas by randomly opening books and choosing a word or phrase, or by looking around the house for an object or picture. Some days I had a cold hard knot in my stomach, wondering if I'd ever think of something. But it was a tremendous exercise in writing under pressure, and I slowly built up my confidence. In the meantime, I invariably read at least a dozen challenge posts a day that made me laugh out loud – or realize that I'm not the only person in the world with strange habits.
Since then I've polished a few stories and hope to have them included in an upcoming collection, along with some new works. I've made lots of great friends, learned a lot about writing, and figured out how to install those darn widget thingies. I've even co-hosted a blogfest, The Rule Of Three, which opened my eyes to the amount of time, effort and sheer stamina that goes into planning these challenges; I can't imagine how much goes into executing (and reading) something as massive as the A to Z challenge. And so my hat is off to our intrepid hosts!
If you ask me if I'll participate in the 2012 A to Z, I'll say “probably not”. I'll think about it, vacillate, waver, shake my head and dig in my heels. Then the linky will go up, and my finger will hover over the ominous “you're next!”. Chances are I'll press it and sign up. Then I'll second-guess myself, moan, wring my hands, get excited, slip into despair, and finally decide that maybe I can do it, and if not, well it won't be the end of the world.
I wonder if there are 26 Ways That The World Might End. Hmmmm. Now there's an idea.
Happy New Year, everyone, and see you at the 2012 brand spankin' new A to Z Challenge!
Thank you to Arlee Bird , creator of the A to Z Challenge, for hosting me today, for beginning this awesome blogfest, and for being one of my earliest followers. You rock, Lee, you really do. Thanks for sticking by me and supporting me.
And thank you Li for inspiring, entertaining, or scaring us. It's like some of those stories she tells. If you haven't read Li's stories make haste and read your New Year's Eve away. Now that's one heck of a way to celebrate the New Year!