Sunday, 6 May 2018

A-Z reflections: At the end of something or other - n still Zetetic, though Zonked...



For some vague reason this song has been bzzzzzing in my head…so I might as well share it here.  





As with the other years, intrepid stranger or close friend, you pays no money, but you gets your choice - take your pick -



The short version

This marks my fifth straight year at the A-Z Challenge, wow and whoa! Who woulda thunk, right?!

For circumstances various and unfathomable, this was a superquiet Challenge. But…glad I was here, and that I’ve survived. Not once, but five years running. Reason enough for the celebratory smug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug! :)  

I will be forthwith reverting back to my bloghopless state and weekly poetry/fic postings, except for Write…Edit…Publish… of course. See you soon. Till then and beyond, stay happy and well!




The lo-o-o-o-o-ng version

This marks my fifth straight year at the A-Z Challenge, wow and whoa! Who woulda thunk, right?!

Yeah, I need to get over myself – I know! :) There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than can be dreamt of in the smug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug earning of bragging rights at a bloghop, even five years running.

I agree Sirji! I will dispel the smug directly.

From little drops to a splashy puddle

In five years, I’ve written my way from Awdl to Zajal, from Ahlan to Zellige, from Amazigh to Ziwa, and many other things in between. I’ve researched the daylights out of some topics and have had to, regretfully, let others go. I’ve learnt blogging lessons and life lessons and a whole heap of trivia. I’ve had blog fatigue and book ideas and time crunches and family crises and country moves. I’ve struggled and I’ve muddled through and I’ve faintly overcome and been overcome with faintness. In all situations, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.

So what have I learnt? - Here’s the distilled wisdom from five back-to-back challenges survived.

1) What goes around comes around, but only sometimes – unfair but true. Not everyone will do unto you as you do unto them as far as reciprocal visits/comments go. Most bloghops have a fairly large proportion of people who follow a no-first-click policy, and some who never engage even when others visit/comment on their blogs. Do NOT let this throw you off your game. Because the sense of accomplishment when you hit publish at Z? - a many-splendoured groovy thing, I kid you not.

2) Success is an ill-defined beast – For a long time, I was always looking at numbers, for a quantifiable definition of success – how many pageviews, how many comments, how many followers gained - make participation in a bloghop successful? The answer was a big, fat, puzzled silence.

I have signed up early, signed up late, not signed up at all when the challenge went listfree. Written poetry and prose. To ubertiny wordcounts, and humongous mini-dissertations. The patterns were. Precisely.  Nil. Not a whiff of a single quantifiable relationship between any of the variables. Then I’ve stopped wracking my brains for golden rules and hey presto! the golden rule has come and whacked me on the nose.

3) Success is measured in enjoyment, and a challenge is its own reward. No matter what my themes or visitor counts were – I have loved the research that each of the A-Zs required. I did not assume my readers need ‘easy-peasy, cheesy’ topics, that every last A-Zer was only interested in how lightly s/he could read and how quickly click away. Paring my posts would interfere with my own A-Z high, not going to happen! It’s up to each one of us to define our own parameters for success. Choose yours and have fun.

4) Each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home a learning curve - I’ve learnt a whole heap of blogging because of the A-Z. How to schedule posts. How to create a live link, or to figure out the permalink for a post before it is live. Visiting, commenting, critiquing – all take practice, and being at the A-Z has improved my skills on each of these. I’ve learnt to venture into the most fearsome territory of all - the dreaded html and work there without getting jelly-knees. When you’re in the midst of the Challenge you don’t notice these things - the learning curve seems quite flat. But it increases incrementally, infinitesimally. Little drops of water make the mighty ocean. Over five A-Zs that’s quite a splashy puddle if not an entire sea.

5) Takeaways are never negative – Whether an experience is pleasant or unpleasant, the takeaway is always in the positive zone. Always something useful – a blogging tip, a fun fact, an idea, a travel wishlist, a book/film reco, horizons broadened an inch at a time – some little thing that you can get out of every single experience, even something as ‘virtual’ as a bloghop. There’s potential in any situation, just be open to it.

Lists! Lists! Lists! And listless…

My 2018 has been almost as stressful personally as my 2017, therefore my A-Z goals have got tweaked accordingly. I did not go all out to read new blogs aggressively this year, confined myself to reciprocal comments after the first week. Given my situation that has worked out fine.

The new daily list formats, I have to say, haven’t – not a fan. Listfree was a cakewalk compared to this! The main A-Z blog posting to GMT also threw a largish spanner in the works - meant there were US links on there, which were still scheduled several hours away at the time the daily list went live. I clicked and drew a series of pages not found. For this to work, all bloggers who put in advance permalinks on the lists, would also need to schedule to GMT with military precision - yikes! 

GMT also meant I lost about 4-6 hours of exposure as I didn’t realise the permalink could be posted in advance till well into April – missed the memo on that one. Last year the A-Z posts went live well in advance of GMT so that Aussie/Indian/Far n Middle Easterner participants would not lose any exposure, can’t fathom why this was changed…

Anyways, the Google forms just felt like one hoop too many to jump through - I gave up on the daily caper after sometime. It did say they were 'optional' somewhere. Dropping out from there kept my visitors/comments at a level I could handle. So, less stress all round. Perfecto.


Hmmm, what else?...oh yes, what happened to the survivor's badge? I've got back to the A-Z every year only so I can pin another one on the blog! Mildly miserable that I couldn't claim my fifth... and since we are on the subject, my preference for the old postmark/bookstamp design way, way outstrips the new, 'user-friendly' version...

Heartfelt thanks to my regular readers – Elephant’s Child, David at The Lair of the Silver Fox and Joanne at Word Splash for their unstinting support throughout the month. Your words and encouragement are prized beyond rubies. Also to Damyanti at Daily (W)rite  for sharing each one of my posts quietly, as she always does. Value your endorsement and your thoughtfulness, Damyanti, thank you! Among the A-Zers my thanks go out to Hilary at Positive Letters, Inspirational Stories, Deborah at Temenos of the Blessing Light, Hester at Dis Ekke, (both of you ladies, thanks also for supplying me with the title of this post!) Kristin at Finding Eliza, Yamini at Doses of Wild Yam, and a special round of thanks and applause for Zalka Csenge Virag at The Multicoloured Diary for co-hosting the A-Z with her usual charm. Appreciate your visits and kind words and your fascinating A-Z folktale posts. 

Like last year I, and I’m sure other returning A-Zers, missed Ninja Captain Alex’s presence and his unobtrusive but towering co-hosting skills and his unfailing courtesy that kept ye olde collective morale up.

Morale – that’s the word. Some corner's sagged a little. Take a peek at the sign-ups, at the theme-reveals. Check out the A- and the Z-post list. Have a read through the comments on the main blog. As I said before, it’s not just about the numbers, the sign ups were probably higher than last year’s. It’s more about the feeling. At M-i-V, this was the first year in which April pageviews actually dropped compared to March, that's never ever happened in the history of this blog whether I was at the A-Z or not - gobsmacked! All in all, it felt like something’s bled out this year, some zing’s gone missing…no idea why. But as an avid A-Z fan, it makes me feel vaguely bereft. 

So. For circumstances various and unfathomable, this was a superquiet Challenge. But…I’m glad I was here and that I’ve survived. Not once, but five years running. Reason enough for the celebratory smug, which is now firmly dispelled. :)

I will be forthwith reverting back to my bloghopless state and weekly poetry/fic postings, except for Write…Edit…Publish… of course. See you soon. Till then and beyond, stay happy and well! 



Posted for the A-Z Reflections 

26 comments:

  1. Because I am an addict I read both your short and your long versions.
    And have loved all of your A-Zs in the years I have been following you. Learning is always a gift. A generously given gift.
    Megathanks.

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    1. So glad of your company,EC! Learning and sharing whatever I learn are always fun too and it's the primary motivation for the A-Z.

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  2. Hari om
    Para 3 echoes my own sentiments beautifully! I don't do blog hops and in thay respect I was a non-joiner... but loved the discipline A-Z engendered. Looking forward yo your reg posts! YAMxx

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    1. Me too! There's something very compelling about the rigorous writing the A-Z requires, especially when you're writing to a theme. Love that!

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  3. Good to know I was missed.
    Everyone complained about the big list but sounds like it was a better option than the Google Docs.
    The very first Challenge was all about finishing so that is the best measure of success. Congratulations!

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    1. You were sorely missed! The masterlist on google forms was fine - one time effort only...the daily ones - oof, no. Thanks for the wishes.

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  4. I also want my Survivor Badge! What have they done with it? It was quiet this year, especially where the Wordpress bloggers are concerned, but I still found a few good ones to follow - including yourself. I still feel a little Zonked 😄 With blogging back to normal, think I'm suffering from empty A-Z chest syndrome. www.hesterleynel.co.za

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    1. I'm seriously worried about the survivor badge now :) it's still absconding...

      In my limited experience, Wordpressers tend to be quieter than blogspotters anyways because they have the option to like blogs or star them or whatever and show their support that way w/o commenting. But this year everything was unusually quiet, regardless of the platforms.

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  5. Hi Nila - definitely agree with what you say ... but thanks for mentioning me and my Canadian posts; I always love coming here - you offer so much about your beloved countries ... Africa and India ...

    That's it .. my Reflections will be up 'soon'!! Take and all the very best - Hilary

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    1. I enjoyed the glimpses. As I always enjoy your posts.. will be around for your reflections when it's up...thanks for being here.

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  6. I think the survivor badge is forthcoming. I expect. If it isn't here in a week, then I'd worry.

    I did not realize the daily lists could be posted to in advance. I stuck to the master list which had bunches of people who dropped out or didn't even start. But whatever works, right?

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    1. I didn't realise it either till sometime into April - first I drew those blanks and then I found the lists tucked away somewhere on a different page...
      There were nearly 700 sign ups...the daily lists had around 300-400 not more. I too fell back on the masterlist pretty soon. Not sure which one worked better even now :) but definitely did not like having to put in the details every morning on the daily lists.

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  7. I read both versions too and I gave up on the post everyday a link thing last year. I enjoy following your blog and will come back during the off time and see what you are doing. I'm working on my reflections post.

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    1. Oh, I did the link pasting thing last year, it was not so complicated, done in two tics. This year it was so much work! - the name of the blog, adult or no, theme, links oof...nope, not my favourite thing. I am so glad to have found your poetry blog! and look forward to visiting...

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  8. Thank you for the shout out! I really enjoyed your theme, and your posts, with all the music and information :) Congratulations on your 5th year! I hope you'll join us again next year too :)

    The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

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    1. Thank you, pleased to know you enjoyed the theme here!

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  9. Thanks for the shout-out.

    You gave us lots of interesting stuff this year, and I'm glad I read every one of your A to Z posts. It's also nice to know that I'm not the only one who can write a long post, haha!

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    1. Hahaha, we should have a blogfest for writing the longest posts ever! Glad you enjoyed my series.

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  10. dang - thanks for the shout out, but not necessary. I just love your blog. I found it from an A to Z in the past, and I'm sticking with you - through every April and beyond. Your writing, your analysis, your research, and your world is fantastic. And I look forward to poems again.
    In a perfect world - it would be very cool to meet you, Elephant Child, etc for dinner. I have no doubt we'd have a grand time.
    Anyway - kudos for the full analysis, for your blog effort and research, and for choosing to do the work. It was not in vain. You are a Survivor of 2018 A to Z April. Congrats!

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    1. Thank you! That's an aspect I missed out - the finding of like-minded bloggers. Most of the blogs I read and most of those who read mine have 'met' through the A-Z or WEP.

      It would be totally supercool to meet for dinner sometime :)

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  11. What a thoughtful reflections post, following up on your fabulous and informative series. I appreciate the mention as well - thank you.

    Hooray for your 5th completion - definitely worthy of a fair share of smugness indeed. I also agree 100% that success is measured in enjoyment, and a challenge is its own reward. For me that meant April was filled with lots of icing on the cake. And thanks to you I have a bunch of new favorite music keeping me entertained this month.

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    1. Glad you liked the music! A-Z is so much fun - except for the ones who take but don't reciprocate and mar the tone.

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  12. Well done for completing your 5th challenge. I think you're right that success is not about the number of page views or new followers but about what you get out of it personally. I learned so much from the research for mine too and enjoyed connecting with people. I'm not a fan of the daily lists either, don't see the point of them. The GMT thing worked better for me as I'm in England but I was still somewhat confused by it. I also want a survivor badge.

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    1. The survivor badge is up today! Big smiles all round. The rigour, the organisation, the discipline and the learning have always been my primary motivation for the Challenge - the connections are the icing on the cake.

      Thanks for visiting.

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  13. Thank you for your fabulous series on Africa, Nila. I learned a lot. My favorites were your Safari videos, which I looked forward to each day. Congratulations on another Challenge well met!

    Since I have only participated for two years, I can only compare last year and this. I did like the daily spreadsheets. What I did not like was that people could post ahead of time without listing a time for the live post. The first page was full of links that were not yet live and I quickly started ignoring the first page.

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    1. I had fun making the clips, they were my 'pantzing fix' :) I'm so glad you enjoyed them. Thank you for the support throughout the challenge...we survive because of the encouragement and the camaraderie the challenge generates.

      In past challenges there was only one master-list, simpler times :) I did not like those empty links too. Being 8-9 hours ahead of US complicated things further. I just stuck to the signup list after a few days, worked better for me.

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