Thanks to Arlee, Nicole, Damyanti, Alex, Tina, DL, Jeremy, Shannon, Matthew, Livia, Konstanz, Stephen and L. Diane for hosting this crazy adventure! We are all indebted to you!
What did I get out of participating? What I got out of this was not actually what it was designed to do. This challenge is, at its heart, a blog hop. You meet other writers, connect with them by commenting, following, tweeting and liking and hope that they will return the favor (which they will because they're all awesome people). Many writers will stock pile their posts ahead of time so that the little free time we're all left with after the daily stresses of life can be spent reading and commenting rather than having to worry about your next post. This is a brilliant idea. But it's not what I did.
I started writing my posts on March 31st by writing one- the first one- and then went to bed. Then that Monday I wrote another. Then Tuesday another. And so on, and so on. In a very short span of days I became aware of the rather miraculous phenomenon taking place: I was writing every day. Every day I'd think of a story, I'd search for pictures to go with it, and I'd post. One day at a time, one post at a time.
Great writers, smart writers, writers far more successful than I are sort-of confused when I talk about writing everyday as a 'miraculous phenomenon' because to them, writing is like breathing- they can't not do it. This is largely why they're so great, smart and successful, of course. But I'm not in that league yet and for many, many years this practice has eluded me. This challenge got me into the practice and it has changed me as a writer.
Don't get me wrong, I've done NaNoWriMo four years running and for four years I've managed to write everyday for a month. But, of course, when the month ended so did the writing. And I'd go back to doing what I always did- criticizing myself right out of the story I wanted to write.
This challenge got me not only writing everyday but POSTING everyday. Rather than having my words sit in a word document collecting virtual dust they're out there for the world to see. That's a whole new ball game and it altered me more than anything else I've yet experienced as a writer. It changed me. Hopefully for the better. Time (and all of you) will tell.
The Best Part Where this challenge does its best is exactly where its aimed: building connections. The number of new writers I've met, the amazing voices I've been exposed to in reading their posts, the feedback I've gotten and the followers I've gained is nothing short of awe inspiring. Especially for me, a writer who's been posting for years on a blog that no one outside of my dear friend John ever read. (Seriously- go back and scan through my old posts. There are NO comments.) In the course of a month my list of followers has grown by... oh, about 40. And all of them are great writers. And all of them are obscenely nice. Yeah- awe inspiring.
The Worst Part The flip side of that coin, of course, is how many other writers I didn't get to connect with, and how many blogs I missed commenting on. I have a serious guilt complex about that. More than a thousand people? That's a a mighty sizable amount of guilt.
Now, you'll want to point out that if I had stock piled my posts ahead of time it wouldn't have been so overwhelming. And of course you're right. So I'm not blaming the challenge for this, and I don't think there's anything that could have been done differently to fix it. Time management, as always.
A blogging buddy of mine pointed out that the list of bloggers isn't going anywhere (I don't think?) so I can keep visiting and keep connecting even though April's over. And I fully intend to cause that really is the best part.
Again? Hell, yeah! I've already picked my theme for next year and I have an idea for the year after that! This was such an amazingly rewarding experience I wouldn't dream of missing it again. I only wish I'd discovered it sooner.
A giant thanks to everyone who read, commented, followed, connected and blew me away with their kindness this month! You guys rock my socks right on off!
And to those of you I missed- I quote Liam Neeson when I say "I will look for you. I will find you. And I will comment on your awesome posts." Wait... I think I misquoted that...
Now hop along fellow bloggers, and keep the love going!