As a new blogger, having only started regular visits to the Blogdom this past January, I was immediately enthralled, excited, and spooked by the A to Z Challenge concept. If I am being honest (and why be anything else unless answering questions regarding a whole tray of missing deli samples at the grocery store), I had absolutely no idea how I was going to approach the challenge; and, even as I signed my blog up under number five hundred and something on the list, I was harboring some serious reservations about the commitment I was making. As every one was organizing and discussing their March preparations for April's challenge, I found myself feeling even more intimidated. Was I going to have a theme? Would I think of 26 words before hand? Would I just "wing it?" And should I go ahead and start pre-blogging in case I had to miss a day or so in April? So much pressure (of course, I have serious anxiety problems sparked by abandonment issues, so I am really needy in the ole "stroke my ego" department). I just didn't know if I would let myself down, or worse: bore the hell out of readers.
But, I went for it. I'm so glad I did. I had a blast. At first, I tried to think of words ahead of time, but I learned very quickly that was a waste of insomnia, because every time I sat down to begin each post with "Today, A, B, C, etc is for..." some random word would appear on the screen. Not once did I actually end up writing about the subject I had planned. So, basically, not even I knew what I was going to blog about as each day blossomed its letter, until my fingers started tapping keys. At the close of each post, I would look back over the words before me, and just kind of smirk as I contemplated how very coy my muse was (and is). Lesson learned: my muse is a stealthy word-ninja, and I may very well just be the vessel with a handy laptop.
I also learned that I will never be the kind of writer that can be boxed into a category. I will never produce material that has an expectant tone or texture. In fact, about six alpha-letters in, I started to get inquiries from readers (friends and family) about the range of emotion covered from one post to the next; some people seemed simply intrigued, while others seemed downright uncomfortable with it. So, I posted a status on Facebook that read: "There seem to be some people that are confused as to where my blog is 'coming from.' The truth is: just like me, the tone of my blog is going to change daily. It will never be up for labeling, because it is a human expression of a human existence. I'm glad so many of you are enjoying it, but please don't try to fit it into a category. It won't be forced into place, and you will only get mental callouses in your attempt..." Alas, I also learned this very thing about myself in a more concrete, manifest way through the A to Z Challenge (and blogging, in general).
By traveling from blog to blog -as written by others that signed up for the A to Z Challenge- I learned that there are some really talented writers hanging out in the Blogdom, by comparison to whom, I am but a peasant, writhing and frothing outside the castle gates. Unfortunately, I also learned that there are many people that use blogging as a way to commercialize themselves and their work in a way that is extreme and disappointing.
And now, taking an excerpt from my letter Z post, and making this reflection all about me, I'd like to share some more specific points of interest I learned about myself (and others...I guess): "This A to Z challenge has taught me a lot. I have uncovered some long and well-kept government secrets (poor, poor chickens); I know exactly what I'm going to do if I should discover that the world is, indeed, coming to an end in December 2012; I have learned to embrace the fact that I hear voices...lots of them; I acknowledge and accept that I am a mental masochist; I made the delightful discovery that many of you LOVE cheese as much as I do; I understand that my Asian friend, Me, is pathetically co-dependent, and I judge her for it...freely; I have learned that Oscar Meyer has superior marketing skills; I recognize that memories are important, but they do not define us or the moment in which we stand; I now know that I will never be able to properly spell lickerish, and I don't care, because liccaritch sucks; I realize how amazed I am by the magic we all hold, yet about which, we know very little; I know that I do not regret kicking my bitch-ass ho of a mother to the curb, because she was a horrible energy and influence in my life; I am coming to accept that I may never be able to sufficiently define "intelligent life-form," but I also do not plan to stop seeking Truth; I think it is safe to say that I reminded everyone how cool haikus are; I reminded myself how awesomely unique my goldfish, Morpheus, was (RIP, lil' homie); I learned that most people don't want to be bothered with the rest of humanity, so f*ck 'em; I expressed and stand by my love and admiration for dogs; I fully realize that I will always become near-homicidal when subjected to loud chewers, AKA smackers, so watch yourselves, you nasty fouloids; I think I am learning that I want to be a butterfly (I can't really remember the metaphorical crap I wrapped around that one, so...); and also, I like apples. Most of all importance, though, this challenge has taught me that "Z" is a wanna-be pseudo letter that heads up mostly ridiculous, fake words."
But mostly, throughout the A to Z Challenge, I learned that it's more important to stay true to who I am than it is to watch my "follow count" grow. And as a new blogger, I think that's a damn good lesson to learn.