Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A to Z Reflections

Joy.  Triumph.  Success. (This is not me)
Wow.  I jumped into the A to Z Challenge at the last minute and without a lot of thought, mostly just worried about whether I could manage a daily post (I did, but it wasn't always easy!).  I had no idea how much I would get out of it.

As a writer I got:
--Clarity about what I'm doing with my blog, and why.
--proof that I can write daily, and not in any trivial amounts.
--practice meeting deadlines.
--ideas (like schedules) to make it easier.
--new blogs and connections for more inspiration and instruction.

As a blogger/marketer:
--huge increase in daily traffic to my blog, though I don't expect it to remain so high.
--increased my followers from 21 to 51 (thank you to all of you who joined!  I know many did it just because that's what one does during the A to Z; I hope you will all find something worth sticking around for).
--learned how to use the scheduling feature so my blog can keep going when I'm away, and so it can go live at the same time each day.
--discovered several blogs that will help me with what I struggle with the most--marketing.

Sometimes it's more like this--needing something to hold me up at the end of a 100-mile ride. (This is me)

What does all this mean for my blog and my readers?  Well, I have a design in mind now.
--I will continue with Mystery Mondays, as much as I can.  I'll be reviewing at least two mysteries each month.  On Mondays when I don't have a mystery to review, I'll be writing about writing.  Or backpacking.  Or both.
--KidLit Wednesdays.  Three times a month, with the other Wed. being for the Progressive Book Club.  Again, I can't promise I'll always have a review on schedule, so I might write about something else some of those days.
--Flash Fiction Fridays.  Yup, I'm sticking with that one.  I like it, and it's good exercise.  So you can look forward to weekly bits of fiction from me.  Really going to try to make this one happen.
--And I'll be writing ahead so that the blog still happens (if maybe a bit less often) when I'm out on the trail this summer.

And what does it mean for me as a writer?  Somewhere in this month I think I really turned a corner in how seriously I take my work.  I think that's the result both of having deadlines (real jobs include schedules and deadlines), and of having more followers.  I've noted before that having an audience gives writing a reality it gets no other way.

Finally, A to Z left me with a moral dilemma.  Part of what the Challenge is about is finding and following new blogs.  And we all love new followers; I'm grateful for each and every one I have.  Yet. . . there seems to be an unspoken rule about following and following back, and I'm having trouble with that.  My rule from the beginning was to follow blogs I want to read on a regular basis.  Now, I see people who are following a couple hundred blogs.  Maybe that's okay.  You follow them, you skim the topics when they post, and go to the ones you want to read.  I'm kind of doing that already.  But one thing I refuse to do, is to follow a blog that is on a topic that doesn't interest me, not even if the writer is kind enough to follow mine.  Nothing personal, just that there are a lot of things out there worth blogging about that I'm not into.  Makeup, motorcycles, restaurant reviews. . . so if I didn't follow you back, it's not that I thought your blog was bad.  It just didn't ring my bell, and I'm trying to keep my feeds reasonable.  Am I doing that right?

 And maybe it's really more like this, at the end of A to Z or the end of the trail--we have to figure out how it all fits back into our lives (or our cars).  Looks like more than could ever go in, but we find a place for everything, and it works.

Please click on over to the next post to see more reflections--I didn't fit them all in one.


  1. I didn't participate in A-Z and as a reader got a bit overwhelmed by all the daily posts, but it's nice to see you reaped a few benefits and clarity from your participation.

    1. Yes, so many bloggers blogging every day is a bit overwhelming! What I get to do next is sort out the reality of blogging vs. writing and publishing (and selling) books. But nothing like knowing I can do a thousand words a day, day after day.

  2. Stopping by from the #atozchallenge !

    I can not say if you are doing it right or not. (Your moral dilemma at the end.) I "follow" a lot of blogs through Networked, Linky, and GFC. I have no idea how to properly utilize most of those. (Sad to say.)
    If I really like a blog, I book mark it.
    When I have time to check up on the posts of others, I click through my bookmarks. (I love Google Chrome! I can open a chunk of pages at once with one click. Yummy.)
    I never ever follow via email. I use my facebook email account at any blogs that ask for an email, because that has the best spam filter I have ever seen, hands down! (Spam? Hmm... perhaps "filter for emails that I was not really going to open anyway, but am not yet feng shui enough to delete without looking at, which explains why I have over 1000 unread messages in my gmail account right now. That might be to long a title for a folder!)

    Great reflection post. Hope to see you next year!

    1. I think one of the things I haven't figured out really is how to manage those subscriptions. And of course they come in different ways from Blogger and Wordpress and whatever other platforms are out there, and most of the time I'm lost in space! Blogging and reading blogs is supposed to be a sidelight, not a full-time job, but it's pretty danged addictive so I have to watch out!

  3. Yes, the first two hours of every day is about reading emails and posts and comments and dealing with real ones... But then I move on to something else,like writing!

    I am very restrictive about email follows. There's yours... and about four others - one of which is Mother Daughter Book Reviews. Some email follows are on my second email address. And any other 'follows' are into Wordpress Reader, Google+ and Pinterest, so I look at them when I fancy catching up.
    Iy's hard. You can't follow everyone if you are writing for real. And you definitely ARE a writer.

  4. Thanks, Jemima. That last sentence is the nicest thing anyone's said to me all week :)

  5. I think you're doing it exactly right. I am also a pick and chooser- I am always happy to find new blogs to follow and bloggers to connect with, but not every blog is going to be something of interest for me. I think that's the great thing about having a blog hop with over 2000 participants- there's something for everyone. You're doing it how it works for you, and that's all that matters. :)

  6. Hi, Nagzilla. Love your name, and just took a look at your blog, which looks pretty good too! I am truly daunted and impressed by those who were visiting a dozen new blogs a day, and presumably keeping up with old favorites, too. Or not. I will be weeks catching up, especially with those who posted stories, which can't be hurried through.

  7. You can't follow every blog you want on blogger anyway because they cap it at 300 I think. Which sounds insane, but I've been doing this awhile and have bumped against the cap. I peruse my blogger feed when I can, so it's not like I'm reading 300 blogs every day. But I like to connect with writers and readers and that's how I keep track.

    congrats on finishing the challenge!

    1. Well, 300 would be enough to keep me from ever finding the one I wanted! Plus all the ones I follow on Wordpress.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I've yet to do my reflections post (to be honest, I didn't know about it but now I do, haha).
    I've really enjoyed how you did A-Z and I'm glad you are continuing with flash fiction Fridays!

    I admire your honesty with the following back thing, I feel very similar. I can't imagine having hundreds of blogs in my reader feed. My eyes would glaze over and not many would get visited!

    Congrats on a successful A-Z! :)

    1. Well, Lexie, I thought you were sensible :D I'd started reflecting as a matter of course--it's been an interesting month. So I'm glad there was an official outlet for it.

  9. "having an audience gives writing a reality it gets no other way."

    This was so good and so true! I felt my topics and posts were rather boring before, and while they may still be that way, at least I don't feel like they are! :) I also agree that I only follow bloggers that contribute something to my happiness--whether in comments or in content. I wouldn't feel badly about not following back--it's all part of the blogoshpere!

    Congrats on finishing the challenge!

    1. Love your screen name. Though I'm afraid around our house it would be the other way around. . . I'm more ornery than the spouse (or maybe just plain cranky)! Congrats to you too on finishing!

  10. I officially follow those blogs that I absolutely adore, then I subscribe to a whole slew of others for various reasons. I really don't want someone to follow me unless they are really intrigued by the content I post. So I don't feel guilty, either way.

    Cheers from an AtoZ cohort ~

    1. Okay, now I know I don't know. . . I don't know the difference between following and subscribing. Social media is tough when you're a half-century behind!

  11. I love the metaphors for blogging and the A to Z challenge that you drew with the photos in this post. I think you are right to only follow the blogs that interest you...don't let a sense of obligation or guilt make you go against that. I followed a couple of blogs when I first started that turned out to be not what I thought I was getting, and choosing to unfollow them was worse (from a guilt standpoint) than not following them in the first place. So now I'm more picky about clicking the follow button!

    Looking forward to going through your A to Z archives...and to reading your Friday flash fiction pieces (I've also dedicated my Fridays to flash fiction).

    Another A to Z survivor,

    1. Thanks Michelle, and thanks for dropping by! I certainly know what you mean about "unfollowing" being much worse. I did follow a few right at first that I don't actually follow, if you follow me. . . :p


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