What was the A to Z for me? Just replace the man at the right for a dragon and you'll get the idea. I accept I am naive in regards of blogging. I've just been doing it for five months and I've questioned my sanity often during that time, but not more than when I signed up for the challenge. My insanity was certified the moment I raised my claw for a minion job. How hard it could be to read 20 blogs daily when I used to read nearly 50 at the time? If I could write my posts in advance, I was safe. (RrrrrighT.)
Only when the show started, the shocking truth sank in. I was supposed to be on the stage (with my posts) at the same time I was supposed to attend my audience (answering comments), correspond the attention by going to see their respective shows (visiting their sites) AND make rounds along the fair, standing watch for any misbehavior (minion job). If this was not enough to start pulling out my scales, in my blissful dementia I had promised my friends I would support them by watching all of their shows, the 26 of my nearly 50 (at the time) favorite bloggers. The coup de grâce was the "hot" emotional crisis I was facing due to my health issues.
I would be a hypocrite if I say I wasn't regretting my decision to participate after the third day. My mind was chaos and my heart was crushed since March 22 but I could not make myself drop the towel and withdraw. Instead, I swallowed it down and just carried on to the best of my abilities for one reason alone. I needed to focus on something different than what was happening to me. I needed time to process the challenge of my life and the A to Z offered that chance.
In the end, A to Z didn't just give me a mind diversion, it also taught me many things.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Good. Finding reasons to laugh was the best. And I found them everyday at The Waiting is the Hardest Part. Stormy was my first visit of the day. Elise Fallson and her -ologies sometimes gave me laughter, sometimes made my jaw drop in awe (or ooooh.) Damyanti (who I still keep in my daily prayers) at Amlokiblogs was such a soothing stop for my soul. I was there everyday even if I didn't comment. Some thoughts were too private to write them down. Christine Rains kept me on my toes with her story. I liked to go to Elizabeth Seckman to confirm my levels of ignorance. Clare Dugmore was doing such a wonderful job, pity she quit. I couldn't miss a post from Moody Writing. Loved Shannon's amazing mysteries at The Warrior Muse. These are just off the top of my head but I saw many I truly enjoyed.
I want to make a special mention here because, to me, he deserves it. No one ever talk of devotion to blogger buddies until he has spent so much time and gone through so much effort as Alex J. Cavanaugh. I can only imagine how much time it took him to do what he did. Choose 26 from a list, that judging by his blogroll, can surround the dragon cave several times. Then find a relation with a character from a movie and find a song that fits the person AND make a trivia, just for the joy of it. Whoa! I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Regardless I was among the ones he honored with his effort, I must salute his one-of-a-kind dedication.
Before the challenge I had 92 followers. I got 57 new followers if my math is right (which is rare.) Among these new dragon friends, I met a few bloggers that seem to like me enough to stick around after the challenge. I'm very happy and thankful for this.
The one-man band, or in this case, one-dragon band feeling didn't let me enjoy the event as much as I would have liked. The sense of rush is overwhelming and extremely distressing. I really wanted to visit all of the bloggers with whom I feel I developed a special friendship. I felt as if I were betraying some of them by not supporting them with my comments every day. I also felt bad for not being able to answer each and every comment left in the cave, not to mention paying back the visit. At some point, I had this uncomfortable feeling I was tripping over my efforts, including supervising the part of the list that was my responsibility.
I would suggest the co-hosts to pick more minions next year, and probably do it among those who are not signing up their blogs in the A-Z. That way they wouldn't burn out the volunteers so much. Regardless the special circumstances I was living, I noticed I was not the only "minion" hinting a break down due to pressure.
The Epistle of Saint Mathew. A whole chapter of a manuscript (worth 10 pages) per post. Come ON! Really? You've GOT to be kidding me. When I ran into these types of posts, I thought on the honorable thing to do. Gather my dwarves and commit mass ritual suicide. I strongly believe the co-hosts should set a maximum word limit as a rule, not a recommendation. First, the blogger didn't get one single comment (no wonder why.) Second, it is extremely upsetting for the reader who is trying to read as many posts as possible without dying in the attempt. Even if you don't read it (that you won't) you already wasted your precious seconds in clicking on it, see the horror, and getting out of there. It is equally frustrating as running into ad-sites. It should not be allowed for everybody's sake and sanity.
If someone wants to post The Insufferable Lightness of Being Wordy in their blogs, I don't care one bit. But if they do it as part of a monster-size bloghop like the A-Z, they might wake the nasty beast inside me. Same goes for the ones who got three different subjects the same day and chose to place the A-Z at the bottom. Now waste my time scrolling down, trying to fish for the subject that brought me there. That's cheating. If you know the main traffic will come from the A-Z list (and you know it), the decent thing to do is placing the A-Z posts on top of the heap. Failing to do so should be also reason to get the blog out of the list, once again for the sake of the extremely precious time nobody has in excess.
That's why I'm marking my reflections for the Host and Co-hosts ends here. I congratulate Arlee Bird for the great idea he had in the A to Z Challenge. I also thank all the co-hosts for everything they did to make it work the best possible way.
Father Dragon and the A to Z Challenge - Disserambling
I do believe the challenge fulfills the goal for which it was created. If you make a fair play, you'll meet new people, they'll meet you, and you'll get followers. My respects to Arlee's idea.
Why I wouldn't do it a second time? I mean, besides the bad and the ugly reasons above. In a title fashion? My first name is Alex but I am not Cavanaugh.
Yes, I would like to be able to get to know one million people, and keep tabs with everybody, help everybody, be popular, etc. Reality is I have neither the time nor the strength. My priorities overall are different because I'm different and my life is different. I see the benefits of having ten thousand followers if I had something to sell, but right now, I've got only me. Having actual conversations and interaction with people bring me more joy than having a big number of followers in my blog (or in my twitter for all that matters.) I haven't seen a single comment from some of my followers and I wonder if I will ever see one, more so if they don't get one from me on their sites. My greatest pleasure has been to answer a comment and get a second reply or even a third and fourth, here or at the blogs I visit. I like to get to know the people that touches my heart.
I must confess I do not visit all the bloggers I follow either, pretty much for the same reasons. Time and strength. Actually, I am noticing my available time online will decrease in a significant way, due to the titanic effort that means to make the impossible, possible. On the "Quid pro Quo" basis the blog world works, it's very likely I'll lose more than twice the followers that I've just won because they won't see me on their sites anymore, or not as often as I used to. I've been struggling to come to terms with that. In the end, my priority number one has to be more important to me.
The glow made me want to be like the Captain Ninja and do the things he does (I think in a way everybody wants that at some point) but the A to Z Challenge taught me I am not like him. I am ten times taller, several tons heavier, many centuries older, I have wings and scales. I am Father Dragon. He is Captain Ninja. We're different. And that's perfectly fine by me because I trust he'll still be my friend regardless the number of followers I have. Just like Jeff, Laura, Gary, Elise, both Julies, Mike, Michael, both Marks, Tara, David, Lexa, Melissa, Suzanne, LD, Diane, M.Pax, Lara, Christine, Donna, Mina, Jaybird, Yolanda, Tonya, Dani, S.K., Jo, Elizabeth, C.Lee and the rest of Dragon's Eleven (that luckily for me, are like thirty.)
Next A to Z's, I rather be part of the cheerleader team and support all of my friends with my 600 dwarves, spelling each of my blogger buddies' names to thank them for everything they've given me.