I realize that my Blogging to A to Z Challenge post is woefully belated, and that everyone else wrapped up the insanity days ago. But what the heck. Sometimes it’s okay to duck out of the party part way through and pop back once it’s over to help with the clean up, right? So here I am with my broom and dustpan (totally old school, I know; mock at will) ready to tidy up my little corner of the A to Z shindig.
This challenge proved to be such a rewarding and enriching experience for me from several different perspectives, and I would like to share the top five highlights with you. (I’m leaving the most important till last, so if you’re in a hurry and just want the punchline, pop down the page to #5; that’s the one you don’t want to miss.)
Let me preface my highlights by saying that I signed up for this challenge with a fair bit of trepidation, not to mention terror. In the days leading up to the challenge, my doomsayer-brain treated me to a relentless internal monologue that vacillated along a continuum of doubt from “Oh, you ridiculous, delusional idiot, what do you think you’re playing at?” through “Great plan! Let’s just let everyone in the world know how boring you are, shall we?” through “You whack job! You can’t even manage a post a month, how on earth are you going to compose a post a day??!!” But another, more stubborn and more optimistic part of my brain–good old cheerleader-brain–kept firing back, “You can do it! It will be fun! It will be exhilarating! You will be so chuffed with yourself if you pull this off!” And, really, who wouldn’t choose fun and exhilaration and ego-boosting over “run and hide while the hiding’s good”? Cheerleader-brain won, and boy are my other brains and I glad she did, because:
1) Astonishingly enough, as it turns out I am capable of producing more than one post a month. Awesome.
2) Even more astonishing, I am capable of producing a post a day. Not that I’m likely to continue in that vein, even when i’m back to regular blogging, but it sure is chuff-inducing to know that I can.
3) The challenge was so exciting! Every click of the “Publish” button sent little shivers of glee down my spine, trying to pack in visits to as many blogs as possible each day in the ridiculous hope of covering them all by the end of April was an ongoing adventure, and feeling connected to a community of bloggers all madly focused on achieving the same goal was an amazing experience.
4) I met some of the coolest people: writers and artists, travellers and stay-at-homers, gardeners and cooks, young parents and retirees, people from my own city and people from around the world. Some of those people are now be fixtures in my blogging, writing and tweeting life, and I am so grateful to the challenge for having introduced us to one another (something I point out to doomsayer-brain on a regular basis).
5) Something amazing happened when I was forced to withdraw from the challenge after sustaining a concussion during an ungainly faceplant onto concrete while crossing the street. I was bitterly disappointed at having to pull out. I’d been posting every day, I’d found a rhythm that was working, the words were flowing, the ideas were coalescing with increasingly greater ease, and I was enjoying myself immensely. I managed to squeeze out a few more posts, but it became clear pretty quickly that the symptoms were getting worse instead of better, and that I was impeding my own recovery. With great regret and disappointment (not to mention a lingering sense of failure), I decided to bow out.
That should have been the end of it. That would have been the end of it, if not for the remarkable generosity and support of a small group of women. When Ruth Long heard about my predicament, she didn’t hesitate for a second. Not only did she volunteer to pinch hit, she pitched my woe to the Fictionistas (Meg McNulty, JennM, and Stacy Bennett-Hoyt), who also leaped to the rescue. Together, in spite of all their other personal, professional and writing commitments, they finished the challenge for me. These are not women I know in “real life,” and they’re not even women I’ve known forever on Twitter or in the blogosphere. They’re just four women who got how important this was to me and were thoughtful and kind enough to say, “hey, no worries, we’ll make it happen.” I was, and still am, deeply touched by their unexpected gifts of time and words. Fictionistas, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You rock beyond measure!
To make it easy for others to find and follow the Fictionista awesomeness, I provide this handy-dandy bulleted list of linkage. Find! Follow! You will not regret it!
I will definitely be back for next year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge. With a bit of careful planning and the donning of a crash helmet, perhaps I’ll be even able to make it through the entire month without concussing myself.