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Monday, May 3, 2010

All over and done with

The A - Z April Challenge is over, all my assignments were handed in on time and over the past few days I’ve had a little think about what I actually agreed to do – maybe you’d like to read my thoughts and reflections on the task we’ve just finished

All those weeks ago when I noticed this challenge being mentioned I was taken with the idea of using the letters of the alphabet as a cue for each post - posting daily hadn't entered my mind (until I read the small print) lol    Using the letters would give far more scope for content than a theme and initially this challenge seemed like a fun idea - reality set in when I realised these posts were to flow on day by day - one after another - not missing a day 'cept for Sunday. 

Reading other blogs during the month made me realise that people blog for all sorts of reasons - I was quite at home with some and couldn't wait for their next letter - others didn't hold my interest at all  - we don't all have the same views and attitudes do we - that's what its all about isn't it?

It wasn't until we were well into the first week I realised there was a suggested word count so I'm sure some of the challengers would have thought my entries were quite frivolous.  Hopefully they were enjoyed for what they were - combining photos along with my thoughts and reminiscences giving an insight into my life and family plus a lot of fun as well, completely different to the many wordy blogs I see in my rambles through the blogosphere

I have to say I didn't feel intimidated by the range of styles and attitudes I found in all those other blogs but there was one aspect I couldn't come to grips with.  Totally unrelated to the actual challenge there was an emphasis on 'followers and following' that didn't sit right with me.  'Follow me and I'll follow you' - giving up isn't something I do lightly  but it was that aspect that nearly made me give up; continuously reading remarks about the number of new followers people had gained began to get on my nerves.

I realise I'm different to majority of the bloggers in this challenge - I blog for fun - not to gain followers - yes, I found that statement debated on several of the challenge blogs - and am realistic enough to accept that once this is all over my 'number' will drop substantially - I wasn't blogging so my name would be remembered or my 'book' promoted or my writing acknowledged - there seemed to be an awful lot of writers and published authors out there and religion to me is something I avoid writing about so was surprised to discover there were a lot of blogs devoted to it in the challenge. 

Baring in mind that I often think of my post topics on the spur of the moment and normally don't publish on regular days and that I'm a terrible procrastinator putting things off to the last minute, I did learn that if I finally put my mind to it I could come up with something on a regular basis, it did mean I had to print off a calendar page to record what I had chosen for each letter (had to write that in pencil 'cose I would often change in midstream) and also to keep a check on which days I actually had a composed post and which days/letters had big question marks against them. 

Do you know what I did find disturbing tho'?  It was waking during the night with an idea going round and round in my head - I also found it disturbing to find myself composing sentences in my head as I fell asleep and hoping I could remember it in the morning - I found it annoying finding scraps of paper all round the house with thoughts written down and what was more annoying was not being able to find a pen or pencil when I wanted one.  Try running in from the garden trying to keep a thought in your mind - All very new to me lol

There was just one big hiccup in all this - well more than one.  Not long into the challenge I began to rethink things - this had nothing to do with the 'following' issue, I wondered if I'd bitten off more than I could chew (I know some of the bloggers did opt out) - being retired doesn't mean that my days are filled with nothing to do and all day to do it in:)

I could see there were the usual weekly commitments, school holidays coming along with grandparent duties, Easter not far away with family responsibilities, as well as other social events.  I knew we were to be away on a 'long 6 day weekend' later in the month but hadn't planned for the fact that my aged aunt would take sick meaning I would be at the nursing home far more than usual, a friend in her early 50's would pass away suddenly, very unexpectedly, early in the month AND that this blasted machine would play up.  I'd have to compose in Word, then copy and paste as quickly as I could before I lost the connection; loading photos was a chore 'cose most of my posts involved at least one photo. 

I tried to get as many of the posts done and pre - dated to avoid a rush at the end (note to oneself, make sure you have the scheduled date arranged before clicking publish) which meant spending what seemed an eternity in this seat, it was like being back at school and having homework to do, there was this daily deadline to keep to lol

Because of the Internet problem I do feel I didn't keep up with one aspect of the challenge - I wasn't able to personally get to many of the blogs and reply to comments or comment in my own right.  I was able to read blogs in my reader but found if I went to the actual blog I was continuously losing our connection especially when I moved from blog to blog.  I missed that contact of commenting on both my regular reads and also the challenge reads and felt a bit guilty about this - for some reason the fault seems to have righted itself since we came back so I'll be calling in when I get time.

Will I blog more now than before - hard to answer that one.  Knowing me and how I like to talk, probably about the same as before - when there's something I want to say I say it lol

Would I do it again - right now the answer is No.

But then on reflection, as I really enjoyed every minute of the month, problems and all - I think the answer could be 'Maybe'.

I suppose its a bit like childbirth or running a marathon - a bit overwhelming at the time and not something you rush back into but the thought of another go gets appealing as time goes by lol

Thanks to arlee bird over at Tossing it out for introducing this idea and giving us this past month of fun

Click Here - If you would like to see other Reflections on the challenge


  1. A very thoughtful post. Congratulations on completing the challenge despite all the everyday difficulties. I know that I couldn't have done it.

  2. Oh Cathy, I am so with you. This following thing didn't float my boat at all. I write because I like to and am happy to have a few bloggers that I feel I "know". Since I blog just about everyday the daily thing was not an issue.
    I have you on my goggle list so I read you when ever you write.

  3. Hi, I found what you wrote very sensible, the aspect of gaining more followers wasn't the be all and end all for me. I wanted to do it for me, for my own self esteem.
    I did get many new followers but I commented on almost every one though not everyone commented on mine but that was not an issue,
    I did it because I have blogged for 3 yrs and for the first I didn't get one comment , then out of the blue I got one plus a follower.
    I have enjoyed the past month and I have learnt alot which can't be bad, I've learnt much about other bloggers but I have also learnt alot about myself.
    Yes I would do it again and I hope to pop in to see you.
    Take care.

  4. Hi Cathy, You write such an enJOYable story, I'm glad that you didn't give up mid-stream. I always get pleasure from reading your stories.
    My blogging, on the other hand, is so slow and laborious that each time I sit in front of the keyboard I become "tongue tied" lol

  5. Sorry I had to trash my previous post due to an error and now I hope I have reedited it to read correctly:

    Cathy, thank you for your very well expressed and candid comments. The way you were describing the note writing, waking up, and trying to remember ideas, and all that sounds to me like you're developing the "writer mentality"-- won't be long before you're trying to promote your book and writing.

    You are not the only one that feels the way you express about "followers" and the types of things people blog about. I think it's fair to say all bloggers have some kind of agenda they want to promote and some audience they are trying to reach. Some,like you, have the agenda of personal pleasure and satisfaction in blogging to a select few of a close circle while others want to gain a wide audience to promote their ideas or their "product". Both sides have validity and the beauty I saw in the challenge was the broad representation of approach and the mutual respect that was shown.

    As far as all the talk about gaining followers, I think it is a topic that many bloggers are interested in. I am certainly fascinated by that and the entire concept of marketing and advertising--it has been a part of my field of study for decades. The challenge began because I was celebrating reaching 200 followers, so for me a great deal had to do with gaining followers and that became a topic of focus for me and was of interest to others. Gaining followers is not the reason that I blog, but increasing readership of my blog makes blogging more meaningful to me.

    You did a wonderful job with A to Z and I thank you for your part in it. I understand the relief of being able to take a break from it, as I feel the same way, but probably for different reasons. If we do it again next year, then you'll be ready for more. Hope to see you then, but I'm sure I'll be continuing to catch your posts on a regular basis.


  6. Hi Cathy! I also enjoyed your posts for the last month, but have to confess that I wasn't able to read each one because I'm not able to read blogs each day because of being pulled in so many directions--I know you understand that...But I want you to know, that I do enjoy your blog--You're posts are fun, interesting, and I always feel like I've learned or seen something new each time I visit! Thanks for that! :-)

  7. I enjoyed reading your blog posts Cathy, I have your blog on my google reader list so I either have skim blog posts or slowly read them depending on how much time I have, some I keep unread so I can go back to them later (that applies to all the blogs that I read)
    I don't really get the follower thing, it reminds me of the friends thing on Facebook. Like you I just blog mainly for myself, but now that I'm blogging more regularly I do find (like you) that I compose sentences for my blog while I am doing other things. I'm the mad lady wandering round talking to herself (as I try to keep the thought current)

  8. The number of followers I have jumped up nearly three times in the last month, and while I treasure every one of them, I agree with you on not quite getting the "I'll follow you if you follow me" thing.
    The blogs I follow are all blogs I like visiting because the bloggers have something to say. To follow them so I gain a follower is a slight waste of my time.

    I'm following you, because I love your photographs and the stories you weave. And I am going to keep following you for just those reasons!

    Was great meeting you

    ~ Rayna

  9. This weekend my granddaughter was sitting at my computer and she smiled at me and said, "I now have 450 facebook friends." I asked her, "Do you stay in touch with each one of them?" and she said "No" with that duh look on her face.

    I enjoy blog followers but I do not barter for them. When I find someone I enjoy I will follow them and when they decide to follow me, I am happy. The stories, names and faces are the important part and not the number.

  10. Dear Cathy,
    You have hit on many points that I felt as well. For one thing, I only follow blogs that I enjoy reading. I am enjoying reading yours, you know. It is exciting to see that people follow my blog, because that means that I am not writing to a computer, but to people who are real and who like what I have to say. I began my blog to keep in touch with family and friends, and just happened to widen the sphere of friends and they become "family' to me. I will be coming back to read as many of yours as I can. I like what you have to say and the way you say it. So glad to have you as a new friend.
    Best regards to you, friend.

  11. Congratulations on finishing the challenge -- it was a lot of fun, wasn't it?!

  12. Shoot ... I never realized there was a suggested word count until I read this post. :) Either it was in small print, that I didn't read, or I just missed that exhortation! It's been a treat getting to know you!

  13. I hear you about the composing in my head as I fall asleep. I would do that also. The ability to pre-schedule posts was very helpful as I did a lot of writing on the weekend, and comments on the day of post. Congratulations on finishing!

  14. Congrats on finishing. I can relate to some technical difficulties also. Thanks for your candid wrap up. I admire and appreciate honesty. I'll be checking up on you.


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