Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I Did It (Again!): A to Z Challenge 2016 Reflection

Last month's A to Z Blogging Challenge was the fourth I've completed. It was also by far the easiest. I'm not sure if that's due to the subject matter or the fact that I write more now than I ever have before. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

One thing I've gotten better with over time as a writer, especially with all the experience of these A to Z Challenges, is to let go of expectations. I've also learned to trust myself. So tomorrow is the day for letter X and I have nothing written? No big deal. I've got ideas and I know something will come of it before the day is done.

When I chose to write about "Books that have been significant to me," I figured that would translate to "My favorite books," but that wasn't the case. Sure, some of the books I wrote about were my all time favorites, but when I looked at my list of titles, I realized the books that packed a punch for me in my life weren't exactly fun easy reads.

When I chose to write about Under the Banner of Heaven, I was a little self conscious. Here in The West, Mormonism can be a touchy subject. Plus, the book's main story is gruesome. Did I really want to confess to loving this book? I followed my gut and went with it. Two days after that post went up, I received a message from a friend who knows the author and she got my book signed for me!

It was positive reinforcement, proving that following my intuition and putting myself out there has rewards. For all the times I put myself out there and no one notices or comments and for all the times I take a risk and fall flat on my face, here was an instance of being noticed and that felt wonderful!

The friend who introduced me to this challenge is also a writer. I've known her since elementary school. After we reconnected through Facebook, we've become pretty good pals again and participate in an online book club, even swapping books through the mail. I invited her to choose the same theme as I did, and so we both wrote about the books that have influenced our lives as writers and as human beings in general. I loved comparing our posts each day. We have very different writing styles and reading preferences yet we overlap from time to time and it's fun to see. We didn't double up on any books but were close on two. She chose On Writing by Stephen King for O, which I almost chose. Then I wrote about Watership Down by Richard Adams for W and she had almost chose that one as well!

All in all this was a fantastic year for me for the A to Z Challenge. I've encountered quite a few blogs that I will visit regularly and made some new connections. I'm already looking forward to next year!