A-Z Insecurity

With the A-Z Challenge just weeks away, I must confess I’m a bit more than nervous. As of today, there are 942 blogs signed up to participate. Will Pocketful of Playdough be number 943? I just don’t know.

Last year I signed up for the challenge with just a little over a month of blogging under my belt. It turned out to be a wonderful learning experience. I met a lot of great bloggers and gained a lot of followers. But it was hard work.

Blogging everyday wouldn’t be as nerve-wracking if my entries were short and sweet, but my idea for this year’s challenge is complicated and would require research, which I have yet to begin. My intentions were to start early, but we all know what they say about best laid plans. I came up with the idea back in October and here it is March and I’ve only given my theme a few seconds thought –insert big heavy sigh here.

Perhaps I could sign up and figure out a simpler theme that would require no research, but then I’m not really challenging myself and I’ve failed before I even began. Since Christmas, it’s been a challenge just to blog once a week. How can I gain the confidence to take the leap and commit to blogging every day?

Actually, I’ve taken the leap with my other blog — Bible Bloggers, which came about as a result of last year’s challenge where I blogged every day as a different Bible character. I’m looking forward to doing that again because I gained a deeper and richer understanding of scripture. Writing those blogs expanded my creativity and enlightened my soul. I feel the need to continue the series in my heart, not just my head. My goal was to have a series of blogs by Bible characters written prior to the start of the challenge, and while I do have a slight head start, I’m nowhere near close to having those completed, which just adds to my insecurity about signing up Pocketful of Playdough.

At this point I believe I will continue to work on my Bible blogger entries. If I can finish them by the start of the challenge, then I will sign up Pocketful of Playdough, but if I haven’t finished, then perhaps it is best to not sign Pocketful of Playdough up. A-Z is a big enough challenge with one blog, let alone two!

Have you signed up for the A-Z Challenge? Have you written your entries? Do you have a specific theme in mind?

Announcing…

Next Monday for the first time ever, Pocketful of Playdough is participating in a virtual book tour for Lucy Adam’s book Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run.

I met Lucy during the 2011 A-Z Challenge. Her theme for the challenge was wonderfully creative and informative -a perfect package of literary terms wrapped in an entertaining short story. Since the Challenge, I’ve enjoyed reading her blog regularly for details of life in the South weaved with family quirks and humor.

Join us next week as I interview Lucy about the role running plays in her writing practice.

Did you know that the A-Z Challenge now has its own blog? Well now you do! Click the image and sign up to follow so you won’t miss any important information about the 2012 Challenge!

A Book Giveaway

During the A-Z Challenge, I met a wonderful and inspiring woman named Sharon who blogs @ Grandma is a Writer. The story of her missing son, John, touched my heart and moved me deeply. At first I was not sure what to say in my comments to her posts because I worried about causing her more sorrow, but I needn’t have worried. Sharon’s faith has given her amazing strength and healing. She’s shared her story in the book – Aloha is Forever, which she is now giving away in honor of her son’s birthday Friday. He would be 34.

If you’d like the opportunity to win this book, please visit her blog for details.

26.2 A Different View

A marathon is 26.2 miles. When I signed up for my first marathon, I had been running regularly for over a year and before that off and on for ten years. At the time I knew I had the stamina to run for a really long time. 26.2 miles was a challenge I tackled confidently.

If I consider the introductory post I wrote to the A-Z Challenge and this wrap-up post, then I have logged 26.2 blogging ‘miles’. Prior to signing up for this blogging marathon, I had blogged off and on for one and a half months. At the time I didn’t know whether I even wanted to continue blogging. Posting a blog entry daily except Sundays was a challenge I tackled less confidently.

At first my creativity and writing muscles were pushed beyond their comfort zone. But each day they stretched; they got a little stronger. Now that I’m on the last entry, I have plenty of words, metaphors and images still jogging around my brain warming up for their next work-out. But that is not to say it has been an easy 26.2.

I hit the wall at mile 10, also known as letter ‘J’. But I sucked it up and kept going. I hit my stride at mile 13, also known as letter ‘M’. I barely jogged the last few miles of ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’, but I can’t complain since I didn’t train properly.

Happily I can say that now I’m in incredible blogging and writing shape! Just look at the before and after(s) below!

Before the challenge, I struggled to make time in my day to write. After the challenge, I can’t imagine a day going by without writing.

Before the challenge, I saw myself as creatively-challenged. After the challenge, I realize that I have untapped depths of creativity!

Before this challenge, I was afraid to admit how much I want to write my book. After the challenge I’m proud to say I am writing two books!

Before the challenge, I considered the Bible to be an important tool for Christian writers. After the challenge, I consider the Bible to be an important tool for all writers, Christian or not. It’s filled with tips on how to write plot, irony, setting and especially characters. Bible characters have both good and bad aspects to their personalities, which, as we learned from writing bloggers during the challenge, is a good lesson for every writer.

Before the challenge, I wasn’t sure what the focus of my blog was. After the challenge, I’m declaring this blog to be about a Christian mother finding time to write, run, blog and explore anything that interests her or brings her happiness. Yes that’s at least 2 if not 3 different blog niches, but I’m a mother who multi-tasks!

Before the challenge, I had three blogging buddies and a handful of followers. After the challenge, I have over 50 followers and a bunch of blogging buddies.

Before the challenge, I cherished comments. After the challenge, I cherish comments even more. They are the lifeblood of a blog.

Before the challenge, I had one blog. After the challenge I have two. My newest blog is Pocketful of Roses. It’s about my adventures in growing hybrid tea roses with other gardening bits thrown in along the way. It will only be active, and thus time consuming for me, during the spring and summer months.

My writing and blogging muscles are bulging so much, I’m going to have to buy bigger clothes to fit over them!

After a normal marathon, I log low mileage for a week to recuperate. After this blogging marathon, I intend to continue blogging regularly, which per my schedule is one post four days a week. I don’t want to lose the momentum I gained during the challenge!

 

Now I’d like to share the fabulous blogs whose bloggers participated in the marathon with me, who handed me cool cups of water when I was parched, who faithfully encouraged me and cheered me on for 26.2 blogging miles. Your support and friendship have been the best part of the A-Z Challenge and I look forward to getting to know you all even better.

Blogs that inspire and work out my writing muscles:

Blog that inspires me to be a better mother and to make time to craft!

Blogs that inspire my faith:

Blogs that always put a smile on my face :)

Special thanks to those who made the A-Z Challenge possible

Arlee Bird @ Tossing It Out
Jeffrey Beesler @ World of the Scribe
Alex J. Cavanaugh @  Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jen Daiker @ Unedited
Candace Ganger @ The Misadventures in Candyland
Karen J Gowen @ Coming Down the Mountain
Talli Roland
Stephen Tremp @ Breakthrough Blogs

As I cross the finish line, I’d like to conclude with the words of the apostle Paul, whose blog was mentioned frequently during my Bible Bloggers Series – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).

Zipporah’s Blog

Blog Title: Married to Moses

About Me: My husband  is working out of the country, leaving me to raise our two sons on my own. It’s not easy, but I’m willing to make sacrifices so that my husband can follow the Lord’s call.

Intended Audience: Wives with husbands who work out of town, occupy positions of high authority, work for a cause. Wives who accept coming in second sometimes to their husband’s career.

Blog Excerpt:

One of Those Days

Days like today make me wonder why I married a hero. Our oldest son Gerry has a virus and spent the entire day throwing up, while our other son Eli, clung to my legs like sand on wet feet. I didn’t have a moment of alone time.

Thankfully, they are asleep now, but I’m exhausted. I would love to have shared the load with someone else today –like my husband. But the boys and I are in Midian, my home country, while Moses is in Egypt,negotiating with Pharaoh to save the Israelites.

On nights like these, I like to reminisce about better times in our marriage, like the time we first met. I first saw Moses at the town well, which supposedly bodes well for a  relationship. My sisters and I tried to draw water from the well for our father’s flock, but some other shepherds started harassing and taunting us.

Moses stood up to the shepherds and forced them to flee. He was magnificent –so strong and brave. My hero!

This memory reminds me that the same reason I fell in love with Moses is the same reason I’m alone now. He makes me proud and frustrated all at once. Is he the only husband capable of evoking such conflicting emotions?

What can I do but stay strong and do the best I can in raising our sons? God called Moses to lead His people, as Moses’ wife, I will do my part by keeping the home fires burning.

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And so it ends –not with a bang but with a whimper. I had hoped to finish the challenge with a real creative humdinger of a blog post, but settled instead for a short post about the wife of Moses. I didn’t even tackle the incident where she circumcised her son and saved Moses from God’s wrath.

If Zipporah ever does go there in her blog, I imagine it will ignite a fire of controversy and a storm of angry comments, like this one –

Anonymous                                                                  Mystery Man

How could you do that to your own child? He could have gotten an infection! Don’t you care about your child’s health?

So maybe I’ll re-visit Zipporah’s blog in the future. I do plan to continue, what I have dubbed, The Bible Blogger Series. (Got a better name? I want to hear it!) I’m not sure yet whether it will be a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly feature. I’ve enjoyed writing them and still have ideas for other characters that I didn’t get a chance to write during the challenge.

I want to thank everyone for reading and following! And an even bigger thank you to those who commented faithfully –you guys kept me going this entire month and without you I would have run out of steam way back at ‘K’!

Monday I will have a final post to wrap up the challenge complete with shout-outs, acknowledgements, and links! Now that will be a real humdinger of a post!