- Reflections of an A to Z -
Where to begin? Wow... I have no clue? Well one thing was clear to my mind towards the final days of the A-Z was that I had had enough. I felt that my mojo was running on fumes and my blogging mind was coasting in neutral. That was when I decided to take a rest from blogging in general and focus my attention to other matters at hand. Since which, I have painted the living room, hallway, landing, front bedroom/office and relocated myself into said front bedroom/office, in which I now type this (still viewing some of the chaos that requires my attention for tidying).
I started running again, only for a little over a mile - a limitation dictated by an ongoing injury to a calf muscle from my Territorial Army days. Actually, 'running' is possibly a misnomer, as it is more like a marriage of jogging/running with my lungs acting as the big balding fat man stood behind a huge drum beating out the pace... but I digress.
I will break this into two sections; Pros & Cons - otherwise I might waffle beyond the 1k word limit (so sue me!) ;)
PROS of the A to Z Challenge:
- Awareness - I became aware of a whole new blogoverse out there, populated by a multitude of diverse and eclectic beings, all with a passion for what they believe in and write about.
- Inspirational - Some bloggers are purely gifted at blogging and how they present information to the blogoverse and I admire and envy their writing skills and analytical mindset. Two of whom I shall present to you as fine examples of the writing and presentation skills I have mentioned: Amanda at 'Drama, Dice and Damsons', and Elizabeth at 'Elizabeth Twist'. Both lovely people and bloggers I admire greatly.
- Dedication - The A-Z Challenge definitely teaches a person dedication to the art of blogging. It is a skill set within its own right and something I am still trying to get right.
- Discipline - Another of the big 'D's that come with such a challenge. I will admit, mine was all over the place. There were times I was ahead of my blogs - a feeling I would liken to doing your homework on the night it was given to you by your teacher - and there were times I would literally sit before my pc in the last hours of the day I was supposed to have posted, banging out my post. But either way, it still taught me the discipline required to present a blog post within a given time frame, with the odd slip here and there ;) .
- Deadline - I refer to the above with regards to the final big 'D' within the blogging 'Holy Trinity' - Dedication-Discipline-Deadline. I will hold up a hand of confession here, I did post an hour or two into the following day of the required deadline, but adjusted my time stamp to show 2359pm... I know, I'm a bad man. But at least you'll know if you see my posting time as being that in future and take it as read that I was late. I think this happened three times? But yes, it does instill that feeling of 'Oh my God! Look at the time! I need to post... NOW!' mentality, which for me, is a good thing. It gave me purpose and, if truth be known, fulfilment.
- HTML - All I can say here is YAY! I learnt a new skill, albeit a tiny one, with thanks to my HTML guru, Hana. She taught me the basics and through all the posts and linking I have now got this tiny little ninja skill down to a fine art - BUT HTML does sometimes like to mess with your head I have noticed; it seems to know when you are getting all smug, and as you exit the HTML of your blog you see the link isn't working or simply not there? So it is then I find myself speaking in tongues and hammering out a rhythmic cadence on the keyboard, and once this 'possession' has passed, the Gods of HTML deem me worthy of entering my code correctly (even though I know I did it right the first time... bastards!).
- BlogoFs - Short for Blogoverse Friends. I now have more than a handful, which I won't even try to quantify with a number for fear of sounding too cocky or offending anyone :) Simply put, there are those of you who have posted comments and have had my comments in return, and I would like to think there are some of you who know if I consider you to be amongst my BlogoFs. Regardless, I have encountered some wonderfully intelligent, witty, erudite and charming people on this alphabetical journey. I admit, we are all out there, floating about tin the nether ether of the blogoverse, not exactly thinking we're all BFFs, but even so, I like to think we do have a community bond kind-of-thing going on, of which I am happy and honoured to be part of. Just don't ask me for money :P
- Comments - I love the comments I have received, and a very big THANK YOU for all those who have done so and continue to do so. I feel so loved up I could burst :) Ok, maybe a touch dramatic, but it was meant to make you smile. I did visit and comment on blogs, and was happy to see folks doing likewise, even if they were just passing ships in the night. It's only polite I feel.
- Followers - It was wonderful to see my number of followers rise to over the 100 mark, but this is also tinge with a slight sour note, of which I will cover in the Cons section. But the A-Z is a great way to get noticed and expand on your circle of 'BlogoFs'.
- Wiki - What a brilliant resource for an A-Z Challenge! I have to admit I spent all of my time divided between Wiki and YouTube, though I'm not linking as they've both had enough coverage from me.
CONS of the A to Z Challenge:
- Draining - I did find the whole A-Z Challenge a draining experience towards the end, mainly on my mental faculties concerning X, Y & Z.
- Followers - Although getting over the 100 mark with 'followers', it is a rather empty exercise, as I have noticed that roughly only 10% actually comment on any kind of regular basis. The rest just don't bother, and some of these are ones I have commented on two or three times. In the end I give up visiting and commenting. So I have to wonder the worth of accumulating a big number of visitors, when most really only follow you in order to get a follow back and increase their own number - it reminds me of that FaceBook mentality of some folks aiming to have as many 'friends' as possible in a seemingly futile gesture of justifying their existence within the world.
- Comments - Is it me, or do folks seem loathed to post comments that also delve into a constructive analysis? I do get a touch of nausea with some of the 'you go, girlfriend' styled comments time and time again on blogs. I know it is good to be positive, but it is also good to be helpful, constructive and offer opinions. Simply saying 'Great post' really, to my mind, doesn't constitute a valid comment. Same with my stories and poems, if folks read them and didn't like something about them or hated them, I'd wish they would say so. Comments should help the blogger/poster grow, think and mature.
- Less Men, More Women - Usually, this would be a topic that many men would be smiling about, but for me it is the reverse. My ratio of female to male commentators seems to be 10:1 - ten females to every male commentator. Which normally I wouldn't bat an eyelid at, but in feedback to posts/stories/poems it seems the females are leading the way in all areas? To some it might look as if I have aimed my audience at females alone, but not true. It seems the writing aspect of the blogoverse is dominated by females, whereas the gaming/role playing side is male dominated. Plus I wonder if guys out there reading my poems are actually shy of commenting. But I gotta love you gals for commenting :)
- Poor Blog Designs - Ok, I know my own blog is rather dark and sombre in appearance, but in my own defence it was done that way to reflect the tone and mood of the genre for which it was initially created: that of the role playing game. Admittedly, it does seem to have become a different beast in terms of content (may the Gods of RPG forgive me!), but that aside, I feel it isn't too dour or difficult to read(?). But some blogs I've encountered are just terrible. Damned awful colour schemes, poorly thought out backgrounds, transparencies and text colours - not to mention fonts. Seriously, using a Script font for a body of text throughout a blog is a no-no. Trust me, I know, I have a degree in graphic design (believe it or not). I've come across one blog where the font is in navy blue, on a background of possibly 50% opacity with a picture behind that. I had to highlight the text in order to read it. What are those people on? Anyway, grumble over.
- Comment Responses - This is now my pet dislike. Taking time out to comment on someone's blog, to my mind, deserves a reply back. It is something I try to do, and would like done in return. So you've got 15,000 blogs on your 'blogs I follow' list - so what? Be nice and reply to those commenting on your own blog first. I have stopped following many blogs because of this. I tend to give bloggers several chances, and if after the third comment on a third posting of theirs I still get zero response, then I'm gone, stopped following and deleted them from my 'blogs to follow' list. These just strike me as folks who don't give a toss about the comments, but want the high follower numbers. I rather have a low following of folks with a 100% comment factor than three digit followers and comments down around 10% - which oddly, is what I have got.
Well, that's all I can think of. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Am I glad I did it? Yes. Would I do it again? Maybe.
For those of you who do actively look at my posts you will now I like to promote beginner blogs, or blogs with a very low following in the hope of directing more traffic their way, opening them up to new blogofs and drawing them into the heart of the blogoverse community. It is something I am quietly passionate about, as I know how it felt when I started out, not knowing if I was doing the right thing or not?
So to you folks who have warmly welcomed those placed in the 'Blog Spot'-light, I thank you all over again. Without you ladies and gentlemen, my efforts would be nought. So spread the word, and I urge you to create you own 'Blog Spots', and keep the community alive and ever growing.
So now I close by leaving you with this:
- A to Z -
A to Z, a challenge for me,
a gauntlet I use to test me.
Eagerly I sit and type,
on Wiki and YouTube
I spend many a night.
Smug smiles and hearty applause,
I type my HTMLs with stops and pause.
Back to Compose, I hit my button,
only to find the bastard thing's
Back to Edit, away I go
this time with caution,
I type slow, type slow.
Hitting Compose I check my links,
big smiles again more time to think.
Images next: I trawl the web.
Yahoo and Google, I find the best.
From story to poem, and A to Z
I find an image to link a thread
With Photoshop magic, I Insert Image.
I've numbered, I've posted,
and comments I've left.
I've followed and follower been,
across many a blog, so many I've seen.
So this is it, time for an end,
A to Z over for us,
Copyright © 2012 by Mark Kelly