A little over a month back, I signed up for the A to Z Blog Challenge. Today, I am the proud owner of this sparkling new badge-To be honest, the only reason I signed up for the Challenge was because I find it incredibly hard to pass up any challenge. I did the NaBloWriMo in October 2009, and even though I swore I would not go anywhere near it, I attempted the NaNoWriMo in November 2009. The A to Z Challenge promised to be challenging, so how could I pass up the opportunity to be a part of it?
I have been blogging daily since July 2008 (except one day missed in November 2009), so committing 26 days in April was the easy part. The hard part was forcing myself to think by letter, and plan my blogging in advance. For a very brief period, I tried bringing some structure into my blog schedule, but soon abandoned it because on some topics, I had blogs scheduled weeks in advance, and on others, I ended up dashing off some incoherent nonsense minutes before midnight.
People who know me, know that I rarely quit. I am that crazy person who completes a marathon even though over 2/3rds of the participants dropped out due to the severe heat and humidity. If 26.2 miles didn't intimidate me, why would 26 letters? But some letters were harder than the others. Sometimes it was hard to come up with even one topic, and sometimes it was hard to choose the one topic to blog about.
I am not sure I contributed much to the Challenge apart from my daily posts. I wasn't like some others who left a comment every day, and I definitely didn't visit more than a couple of dozen blogs participating in the Challenge. But what I did try to do was to paint an authentic picture of India, so even if many of the people who visited my blog during the Challenge never do so again, they get a flavour of the country.
The Challenge got me thinking about my blog in a manner different from the way I used to. The first week, I knew what I was going to be blogging about days in advance. By Sunday, I had even written out most of the posts for the week, and had even scheduled them to appear on the right day. The second week was less systematic- I knew some of the letters in advance, but picked many of the words only the day before. All the posts that appeared during the week were scheduled to publish at the right time. In the third week, my schedule went haywire. All the posts were printed online and posted directly. That was also the week when I started thinking of topics only after starting to write the blog post! The last week was strange - I knew what I would be blogging about for V, W and X, but all three posts were written online. Y and Z were written on snatched Internet time. But the posts all got done, and in the ultimate analysis, that is all that matters.
I have been blogging daily from the time when I started the blog, and hope to continue doing so till such time as I cannot do it any longer. But this Challenge has got me thinking along different lines, which should reflect in a slightly greater maturity in my posts.
My biggest take-away from the Challenge has been not the number of Followers I have gathered (the number has gone up from about 25 to nearly 100), but the number of blogs that I have started following. Till about the first anniversary of my blog, I concentrated on blogging. It was only in July/ August last year, that I started following blogs, commenting on them, and making tentative friendships. Till I started this Challenge, there were a number of bloggers I followed, and a smaller number that followed me, but they were all bloggers who fell into a certain type. This Challenge introduced me to a whole new Universe of bloggers- people I would not have stumbled onto in the normal course of events, but who I enjoy interacting with.
And that has been my biggest takeaway from the Challenge. Thank you, Arlee. Thank you, everyone who made the past month so meaningful (I'm not listing anyone because I don't want to offend anyone by leaving them out, but they can't not know who they are). Thank you!
And have a Swinging time!