A to Z Reflections 2015 – 6 Plus 1 Thoughts
For this year’s A to Z, I decided to curate, research, and retell world ghost stories. I thought my theme would allow me to whip out short, informative posts quickly, leaving plenty of time to visit lots of blogs.
I got caught in a research and analysis web. Don’t get me wrong, I love going down the rabbit hole of research threads, learning more, analyzing. But it took more time than I expected, meaning less time for visiting other blogs. The extra thought and research was stimulating to me and commenters, so it was great for content, great for my storytelling work, and served to help me develop relationships with some bloggers (YAY). The downside was that it stole precious time for even more community building during the A to Z frenzy.
1. The organization of the A to Z is really lovely, as are A to Z-inspired opportunities for connecting with others. The Twitter chat is a great place to share and connect. Thanks to all minions and coordinators for doing SO MUCH work to make this online community work so well.
2. Pre-writing posts really helps me. My hope, if life allows, is to pre-write the entire month next year so I can devote more time to reading, commenting, and exploring during April. Part of my time crunch came because only six or seven were pre-written.
3. The After Party is great, as I have been using it to check out blogs I missed. Lovely idea to have people choose which of their posts to post there. Maybe I should have posted there as well, but at the time I was more interested in seeing other folks’ blogs.
4. Other bloggers who ‘get’ the community aspect of this make all the difference. Visiting back cross-pollinates the comments, builds blogger relationships, and opens doors to new blogs. It even fertilizes the content. Blogger comments influenced some of my later writing choices since they were a definite part of my audience – I wanted to meet them when I could. There were blogs I visited often or daily, and I always visited commenters when they left their sites as calling cards. Even when things got rough at the end of the challenge, I did my best to visit commenters at the very least.
5. The Linky list is great for finding blogs, but it is overwhelming for me. I am an indecisive person, so choosing was hard. And even if I quickly chose a random set of consecutive blogs to visit, it didn’t always work out. If I couldn’t authentically comment or ‘like’ a blog, then I felt like I didn’t really do a blog visit. And the random approach often yielded that. Since I have internet speed that is more tortoise than hare, getting to blogs is a commitment! So here’s my workaround… I found new blogs by reading the comments on blogs I liked and was already visiting. Interesting comments by bloggers were the nectar that drew me to their blogs. I found great gems that way, even with themes I would have overlooked, like mathematics….
6. The Best Thing! I enticed a three-dimensional local friend into A to Z, one who I regularly see at the theater where we both work. One night we passed each other near the rehearsal rooms. He took one look at me and said, “Oh, no…. Q.” Then he ran off to draft his post. It was so much fun chatting about the A to Z process with him in person, and then going online and having chats with other bloggers and him. Made it ‘thicker’ somehow. I highly recommend this to others if you can possible make it happen in your life.
WHAT WOULD BE NICE
7. A page or two on the A to Z website that has step-by-step instructions for how to set up cross platform communication. I walked someone through the process for commenting on a WordPress blog from her Blogspot. If I didn’t do that, I don’t know if she would have ever commented on other blogs because she didn’t know that she could or how she could.
I know there are several “following” options that reach across platforms (Networked Blogs, for instance), but they all have different ways of signing up – and procedures for getting them to work on your site. I suspect there are differences if you are on WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org vs. Blogger, etc. – even if there can’t be a step by step set of instructions, it would be a treat to have a list of all possible ways people can interconnect. And if there are suggestions for which ones work easier on Blogspot vs WordPress.com, etc., that would be a lovely bonus. (If this info is there on the A to Z website somewhere already, then someone please share the link in the comments!).
Thanks to everyone for making April such a rich month. If only such community and deadlines existed for all my writing projects…. whimsical sigh… :).
I’m seeing a lot of ‘next year I want to write everything in advance’. This is my plan as well, let’s see how it’ll work out 😉
I really love the experienc eand I’m happy, even if April is over, the experience is still living because of new blogs I’m discovering and all the other iniciatives the challenge supports.
And I’m so happy I found your blog early on. It was a blast!!!
Yes I think plans and real life often don’t agree, but it surely would make it simpler to have the whole thing prescheduled and set, wouldn’t it?
I am also continuing with it – but now I’m using bloggers for curation – I will definitely check out your 10 blogs (those I haven’t seen), plus some on the After Party list. Anything to procrastinate another project…. haha.
Same here, yours was a blog I came early on, subscribed (which made it EASY to follow), and look forward to whatever you put out next. Hope you like the usual stuff I put out, but I’ve been thinking that I may keep the Ghost Post as a periodic feature. I miss them already!
I loved your theme, so that was great.
And I did that last year, following back links from comments. It worked a lot better than random thing I did this year.
I’m so glad to hear that we have had the same experience of that Sonia.
That’s a great idea to find blogs through following comments. I think I might try that more next year because you’re right, randomly choosing blogs yields, well, random results. And you give a great suggestion on some possible basic info. for cross platform communication.
I didn’t get to visit your blog as much as I would have liked during the challenge, but I really enjoyed the stories I read. I might visit back throughout the year and read the previous ones, whenever I feel the need for a good ghost story. 😀
Same here all around, I am planning on connecting back with more of the stories, I really enjoyed them!
I am glad the idea about following comment threads is of use – everyone is different about this! Looking forward to catching up on your tree stories… 🙂 🙂
These are really interesting stories, Jeri, and I do believe these spirits are all around us. My mother passed on three years ago; she loved butterflies. I believe she visits me as a butterfly. Today when I was sitting on my porch a small black butterfly that had been hanging around this morning, came right up to me and kissed me on the cheek.
You may be interested in my A-Z post for “W” — “Woman in White” — a ghost well-known in our town, who visited my mother just before she passed.
Yes, storytelling does matter. This is what my blog is about. I will be back to read more. I came just now via Sara Snider’s shout out.
Oh my, thank you so much for sharing that lovely story. How wonderful to have that butterfly kiss. And thanks for visiting because of her shout out (how kind of Sara). After I saw your comment, I checked out her reflections post because I didn’t know I was in it, I wanted to thank her. So then I saw this Scheherezade blog listed there on her favorites and thought, wow I really want to read that blog – and here you are, I didn’t realize you were that blog until JUST now. So when I’ve some free time (not this procrastinating moment) I will be visitng you!
I can relate to all these reflections of the Blogging Challenge! It was definitely not an easy mission, since the challenge goes beyond the words in the posts, but at the end of the day its worth it beyond words can describe.
I enjoyed your posts so much, since I have memory I always felt drawn into the ghostly and mysterious, and found it really interesting to know about all these different stories in different cultures.
Also, thank you so much for your encouragement, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have taken this challenge, and I wouldn’t have this wonderful experience that taught me many things about my own writing journey… and it was so much fun!
I’m so glad you did it too. Your posts were so thoughtful and intriguing. I am glad you liked my ghosties…
The next thing I am intrigued to discover is what some of my fave bloggers do outside of the challenge. My stuff varies usually from what I posted for A to Z, but I think I may keep a Ghost Post feature.
It’s nice to finally meet you! I wrote several of my A to Z posts in advance too. Thanks for finding me, and I hope to catch up with some of your fascinating ghost stories!
Thanks for the visit. I also hope to get back to your blog (this visit reminded me Julie!).
I too had problems with the cross platform communication! I had no idea there was such a marked difference between platforms. It would be helpful if there was some advice for bloggers who are not tech-savvy (like me)! I found myself doing similar to you by finding other blogs who were commenting on a blog that I was visiting. I managed to write two-thirds of posts before hand but still it created pressure towards the end of the challenge for me. I found your blog under a section that A to Z had for blogs with less than 100 followers.
Thanks for the visit. Yeah, I have a feeling the cross-platform stuff is a barrier for some people. I read someone’s Reflection post who said that they only visited blogs on one or two platforms. I didn’t know I was on a site for under 100 followers. Gonna check it out and see if that is still true… 🙂
I really found your blog posts interesting for the challenge and mentioned you in my honours list post – I awarded you a thumbs up badge – Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace
Awww thank you so much!!! I really appreciate that. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond, it has been a crazy week! Hopefully I can put your badge on my site, but I have not figured out how to do that on this platform… hopefully I will. When things chill I look forward to checking out your ‘normal’ blogging and your other honours folk too!
I found quite a few blogs through comments on other blogs, as well. In fact, I have such a horrible commenting system, that was the only way I managed to locate some of the people who commented on my blogs. I signed up for Disqus over a year ago, back before blogger let you reply inside of a comment. That’s why I signed up for Disqus. I hate Disqus. Everyone complains about it when they try and leave me a comment. You have to join Disqus, or comment via some other platform that they allow. Even when people are kind enough to take the time to sign up for a Disqus account, the link it leaves doesn’t take me to their blog. It only takes me to their profile page on Disqus. It is a nightmare, but I don’t know how to switch back without losing all of my comments. The only way I figured out how to comment on WP blogs was to create a WP account that I don’t use. It is tied to an old email that I don’t use anymore. It really would be nice if there was a better cross/platform method of commenting. I had the hardest time leaving comments on Typepad blogs. After I wrote my comment, it required me to sign in or sign up and once I did and it directed me back to the comment area, my comment was gone. It just disappeared and I had to type it again, if I wanted to leave a comment.
Thanks for sharing your very useful tips and advice for the challenge.
I am number 424 on the reflection post sign up list
Thanks for the comments Melissa. I appreciate your taking the time to stop. I don’t know about Disqus so I will check it out, maybe it will work better on wordpress… ? Coming over for a visit now.
Soooo…. I went onto your blog and couldn’t comment on your reflection post. Right now I am not signing up for Disqus, so here is my comment! “I like the idea of a mystery. Like Jazzfeathers I also followed one this year but missed yours. Looks like there is some reading to be done! As to commenting on blogspot… I am wordpress and I have no troubles signing in on blogspot…but Disqus is another matter. Let’s see if this gets to you. Thanks for visitng me over at storytellingmatters.wordpress.com. – Jeri”
Just now getting around to visiting the blogs in the challenge. April was a busy month for me. Congrats on completing the A to Z Challenge! Looking forward to next year! See you on the Road Trip!
Hey, thanks for the visit! I just was over by you but couldn’t leave a comment, don’t know why! Hope to get back there again… so the road trip….hmmmm… 🙂