Monday, May 5, 2014

A-to-Z Blogging Challenge: Rear-View Mirror Edition!

This year's edition of the Challenge was my first as a participant.  From my point of view, I found the experience to be terrific!  

A few years ago, I read Steven King's book on Writing. The one big thing I took from his book was the part where he said that being a writer is like having any other job; you have to go to work every day and you have to put in long hours every day.  He went on to describe 6-8 hours work days spent writing, revising, editing, reseraching and so on.  

As I read his book and, as I have read about other authors who live and breathe writing, I found myself wondering if I, too, would ever live "the Writing Life"?   Could I write everyday, for many days, and not give up?   Did I actually have enough thoughts in my head to fuel my writing for a great many days consecutively?  I didn't know.   I had never really pushed myself before.  This Challenge came at just the right moment for me to find out.

I was directed toward this Challenge by a writer from India named Shailaja V., who has a blog called The Diary of a Doting Mom.  Prior to this Challenge, Shailaja and I both were members of a writing community called The Trifecta Writing Challenge.  The community of writers who wrote for the weekly writing challenges were wonderfully-talented and supportive writers.  For two years, I honed my skills under their watchful and protective eyes.  We all did.  We all felt braver because of the positive nature of the whole community and the nurturing nature of the relationships each writer had with one another.  Unfortunately, the editors at Trifecta decided to close shop this past March and all of us who wrote there were saddened by the loss.  However, there was enough notice given to us to allow for the arrangement of connections with each other beyond the world of Trifecta and, out of those connections came Shailaja's connection with me.   This relationship bore fruit almost immediately as she directed a Tweet to my attention.  The tweet was about something called The A-to-Z Blogging Challenge.  She assured me that it would be fun and that I should give it a go.    She was right.  It was fun.  Lots of fun!!!

Over the course of the month of April, I have accumulated approx. 33,000 words about teaching and children and reading and learning and growing up.   I am very pleased with the product I have produced and feel that I have plenty of reserves still left in the tank, as it were.  But, as is often the case with projects such as this, what started out being about myself turned to be almost anything but.

I have had the great good fortune of meeting many wonderful writers and human beings over this past month.  I have been impressed with their talent, their passion and their positivity.  I could write at length about dozens of them but, a few that spring to mind as I type are some of the brilliant writers pouring forth from India:      Shailaja V.  Jayanta Tewari, Beloo Mehra, Vishal Bheeroo   .  What wonderful spokes people they are for their country and their culture.  What wonderful people they are in our world.  What wonderful writers they are in the community of poets and wordsmiths.  I would be remiss if I didn't give a tip of the old hat to my neighbour in numbers on the original sign-up list, Conlee Ricketts.  What a lovely and positive person she turned out to be.  Her 26-part treatise on living a positive life stands as a road map for a peaceful more contented soul for so many people out there in our world who struggle to find the right path for themselves.   I was equally impressed with Leanee Ross and Michelle Stanley, who both based their 26 posts around individual stories; Leanne with Pride and Predujice and Michelle with Alice in Wonderful.  What great feats of scholarly and imaginative writing on both of their parts. Finally, my Trifecta pal, Kathy Combs walked with me throughout all 26 days and I, with her.  Thank you for your creativity, Kathy and for your friendship.

The legacy of this year's A-to-Z Challenge is yet to be formally written.  I plan of posting another ten-twelve chapters on Education which should, I hope, be enough material, in combination with what I have already written, to shape into a book worthy of publication.  As well, I hope to enjoy and maintain the connections and relationships established as a result of this Challenge.  One never knows where Life will take you but, one must be open to the possibilities when they arise (as Shailaja's tweet, six or seven weeks ago, can attest).  Finally, as a result of my work throughout this challenge, I was nominated for two awards; the Sunshine Award and the Leibster award.  I have accepted both and fulfilled the requirements contained within. As part of the requirements of each award, I was asked to spotlight other bloggers and showcase their talents for the world to see.  I have carried that tradition on and hope that the bloggers I nominated will do the same thus, maintaining an on-going cycle of positivity and reciprocity within the blogging community.

So, you see, I could easily be still sitting at home wondering if I had what it took to live the Writing Life. But, instead, thanks to this Challenge, I now have my first book well under way and I know the thrill of writing every day.  I feel great about the experience and about the people I have met as a result of this experience!   I will be back again next year, as long as the Challenge is going to be back.

My only regret with the whole process was simply the overwhelming number of blogs to visit.  There was just not enough time in the day to do that list justice.  However, I do intend to road-trip my way through the list between now and next year.  It is a nice repository of blogs, all conveniently located in one spot so, there is no reason not to stroll through the list as time goes by.  Perhaps there are more great relationships and connections laying, undiscovered, in the list.  I hope so.

Overall, I shall end with a simple yet, profoundly tendered, Thank you!  To each of the organizers who stopped by to see how I was doing and, to all of the others who put in the time to organize this whole event....THANK YOU!!!    You all did an amazing job.  I am different....better.....because of this experience.   No putting the genie back in the bottle now!  :)

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