All this did happen (well, except my 26 posts) and more, so here are some reflections - some lessons learnt - from my experience in 2012's AtoZ Challenge:
1. Finish the ride if you can, but if you can't, at least make sure you enjoyed it. I guess I knew by the second week of the challenge that I just couldn't produce the kind of posts a day that my theme (and writing style) demanded. And I have to say it was a downer to think I'd 'failed' at the challenge.
But the enthusiasm of the other participants was infectious, and I soon found myself visiting more and more of the participating blogs each day, cheering everyone on and enjoying myself hugely, regardless of not completing my own 26 posts by the end of April.
Along the way, I discovered just how much my theme (fairy tales) for the AtoZ challenge resonated with the writer and blogger that I am, so that it is now a subject I intend to blog on actively:)
Lesson learnt: don't push yourself too hard and plan ahead if you can; but if all else fails, remember to enjoy what you can - even of an 'incomplete' experience - because each cog in a wheel can be as valuable as the wheel itself if you give it the chance to be.
2. Make a house into a home. Given my adventures as an indie author self-publishing her first full length fantasy novel this year, it occurred to me that perhaps success would storm its way into my little indie heart... and up the book charts. Hasn't happened yet:)
But what gives me hope is: making a house into a home doesn't happen overnight. And this is something I learned a lot about during the AtoZ Challenge.
It's all the little things - usually over a long period of time - that create the perfect mix of happiness and warmth in what can otherwise be a cold, sterile structure. And like the daily posts that are the building blocks of the AtoZ Challenge, putting in the time to create an intriguing theme, having fun in executing your theme even if you know you may not complete what you set out to do, and visiting the blogs of other participants... these were all elements that couldn't be thrown by the wayside in the pursuit of a perfect 26 posts in April, not without sacrificing a great part of the fun that was AtoZ.
Lesson learnt: there are no shortcuts in creating a home, whether online or off; but as long as you give your heart the time it needs to find its most genuine form of expression without sacrificing all those little things that it holds dear, you've already succeeded:)
3. If you don't try, you'll never know. As I mentioned above, this was my first experience blog-hopping. Spending lost of time blazing a trail through random blogs never quite appealed to me. I've always been a bit of an introvert (yes, really!), and engaging with others on quite such a constant, daily basis was something I've always shied away from.
But this challenge was a pleasant surprise. A blog hop wasn't tiring at all; it was illuminating without being intrusive. I found kindred spirits. I dare to think some found in me a kindred spirit:)
It turns out that engaging on a daily basis with thoughts and comments online was not the chore I thought it would be; it was a pretty neat form of friendship, unobstrusive and fun. I gained followers for my blog who actually think I'm saying something worth listening to (always a plus), and I found so many others whose words touched my heart.
Lesson learnt: sometimes, it is the unknown that holds within it the most important piece of a puzzle; though the world can be your oyster, perhaps it is only so if you decide to explore it - and maybe let it explore you a teeny bit... a delicious little sample at a time...
And with that, my reflections on the A to Z Challenge are at an end:) I'll conclude by saying that I enjoyed the experience hugely, and I do hope to take part next year as well, maybe even complete the 26 posts required next time! Until then, I hope you enjoyed my reflections on the challenge this year:) Happy blogging to all:)