An e-mail in my inbox today reminded me that April is the month for the famed A to Z Blog Challenge, and for a moment I thought, “Not again…”
Last year I tried doing A to Z on two different blogs, with completely different themes… in addition to posting on two other blogs with still completely separate themes.
It was a challenge, yes. One I’m glad I accomplshed, and one I never want to repeat.
But one blog is easy (or so I tell myself now).
I recently joined Scribophile, an online writing community that operates based on mutual constructive critique. It’s a give and take system where you can only post your work by earning points through giving thoughtful critique to work done by others. Want to post your next chapter or article? Get critiquing!
On top of that, I have become a vocal advocate for participation in a critique group because of the benefits I’ve received from my local group of “critters.”
One of the subjects I saw discussed on Scribophile is, “What makes a good critique?” Isn’t that subjective? What sorts of things should one look for when reading someone’s creative work?
Bam. A to Z topic selected!
This I can do, because it’s something I’m passionate about.
There will be some other posts, but there shall be A to Z posts every day throughout April (with the exception of Sundays) related to facets of writing I look for when I critique a piece.
I know 100 followers is weaksauce in the world of blogging, for people trying to market themselves or get their voice heard. I’m not out to do that (yet). I’m just having fun with a place to rant and/or interact with other people. I like seeing what other people think, and why they think the way they do.
I still count it a special privilege that 100 people out there across the Internets have clicked buttons to become followers of my blog. Those clicks are whispers of affirmation and encouragement from someone not called Mom, in the moments when my hands hover over the keyboard while I ask myself why I’m wasting my time on this “writing thing.”
It means a lot.
So here’s a huge THANK YOU — err, wait —
There we go. Huge thanks to Erica for taking the time to click ‘Follow.’
Erica is clearly a fan of BioWare’s Dragon Age games, and her blog reflects that. But she also runs a Gamer’s Store through Amazon that markets video games on multiple systems, comic art, comic books, and graphic novels.
If you’re a fan of DA at all, you’ll find her posts on builds and talents interesting. It’s been a while for me since I last played DA 2, but I quickly found myself remembering the conflicts and twists of that game with a smile.
It’s been about a year and two months since I started this blog. When I published a recent post, I noticed I was close to 150 total posts. I thought it’d be a good time to pause and reflect.
149 posts on this blog, plus another 106 on the three topic-focused blogs I split off from this one about four months ago. 255 holds significance to me because I grew up using old computers like the Commodore 64, and 255 was the upper limit number in a lot of programs.
So with this post, I hit 256 total. Take that, C64. You can’t even count that high!
Along the way, there are about 170 of you who said “I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this person’s writing.” Though I know there are probably many duplicate readers, my other three blogs each have about 100 people willing to have my posts spam their inbox, twitter, or Facebook.
This is my moment to say Thank you.
I have a number of family and friends who express surprise at my willingness to get along with people who are very different from me – especially those who are antagonistic and provocative about it. “How are you still putting up with that person?” “Why do you bother reading what they post? It’s always crap.”
My experience has been that there’s always a unique quality in every person we meet. There’s something about that person worth discovering. While I may not be a huge social butterfly, I love watching the way people interact and learning some of what motivates them. Like different spices or flavors of ice cream, I enjoy the variety, especially when they can open up my eyes to perspectives I’ve never had before.
That’s what this blogging experience has brought me. I check out the writing of almost everyone who follows me or comments on my page. I browse the Reader, looking at different topics and Freshly Pressed. I get to see what you all share, and invite you into the parts of my life that I’m willing to share. Windows open into lives I’ve never known, and I want to enjoy the view.
My blog experience is no success story. But for those of who you who have joined me in this little corner of the internet, I am truly grateful.
I recently started following her blog because of the A to Z challenge, and also because she made the flu virus sound interesting. Then I saw she has kids roughly the same ages as mine (though her family has one more child than us). Science fun plus parenting fun… fantastic. She checked out some of my entries as well.
I had heard of the Liebster thing, but I didn’t really know how it worked. We use the term “nomination” as though there are authorities out there on the Interwebz who are going to come look and make a solemn gesture of approval, thereby formally blessing us with the award.
Nah, it’s just one blogger to another, saying, “hey, I like what you’re doing over there, and I wanted to call attention to your blog. How about you do the same, but for other people? Pay it forward, and all that.”
Ah, yes, there is the matter of some Q&A first. The way this particular Liebster goes is that I must post random facts about me, answer the Mad Scientist’s questions, and then post blogs that I deem worthy:
First, the facts about me.
I play piano really well, but I can barely read music. I can pick out the notes, but not the tempo. I have to hear a song to know how it is meant to be played, and I’m secretly jealous of those virtuosos who can take a piece of sheet music and start playing it with ease.
My wife is one of those virtuosos, and she plays the violin.
Before joining the military and going to Air Force basic training a “few” years ago, I had mostly gone no further than about 3 hours drive time from my home in Chicago, Illinois.
I once was almost two hours late to a date with my then-girlfriend-now-wife because of a video game.
My wife once held my video games for ransom.
When we knew we were having a son, I immediately thought about the name Jonathan, because my parents had named me after David in the Bible. I thought the name might symbolize a desire for a close-knit relationship with my son like David and Jonathan had in Scripture.
I am ridiculously picky. I hate trying new things. I’m probably the kid who said, “I’ve never tasted that, but I know I hate it, because I looked at it and it’s gross.”
Though I am still a coffee fiend, I was once so addicted that I would fall asleep if I did not make a pot of coffee after work.
My gravatar picture was taken at a hotel balcony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when I was arranging surgery while stationed on Okinawa.
Other than Illinois and Indiana, I’ve never been in any states east of the Mississippi River. On the other hand, I’m 99% sure I’ve driven through or lived in every state west of the Mississippi.
I used to memorize Garfield jokes and tell them every day to my 5th grade teacher.
Now, to answer Mad Scientist’s questions:
What is your favorite book/genre? Right now, I’m set on Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. I picked up his Mistborn trilogy and found it accessible and intriguing – especially the very logical, almost scientific magic system. Then I checked out his work completing the Wheel of Time, and was again very pleased. The Way of Kings is all his own, and kept me turning pages until the mind-blowing finish.
What is your happiest childhood memory? The happiest is hard to pin down. I am blessed in that I had a wonderful childhood. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t broke. Hours spent playing the piano with my Mom listening and relaxing, long walks with my Dad along the nearby train tracks and throughout the neighborhood, time spent with my older brother at the various arcades… Yeah, you get three for the price of one because I can’t choose.
Cat or dog? Fish, several of them, of various sorts.
If you could have a super power, what would it be? I would love to bend time (and perhaps space) because I am so often running late. I think traveling back and forth in time would be prohibitively problematic, so I would just like to be able to slow or suspend time.
What has surprised you the most about how your life has turned out? My family. I never pictured the joys and struggles of raising children, so they have each been special surprises in their own way.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be? For lack of a better answer late at night, I would have fixed my sleep habits long ago.
Why do you blog? I joined a Writers’ Group when we first arrived in Nebraska. They started talking about blogging, and I realized I could work on my writing by practicing on blog articles.
What do you like best about where you live? I have a spectacular view of the base flight-line.
If you could bring only 1 thing with you on a trip, what would it be? Without a doubt, my iPad with Bluetooth keyboard case… and the charging cord. I need my tech toys and ability to type.
What is your ultimate vacation? I’m not big on vacations. If I have money to travel, I use it to go home to visit family, since I and my wife and kids have been geographically separated from our parents on both sides.
If I were to meet you in person, what is the first thing I would notice? Lately, it would be the walking boot. It draws attention.
And now, my Liebster Award Nominees:
Here’s how it works. You can accept and pay it forward, but of course there’s no obligation. Or you can ignore the award (and make me cry).
If you do accept:
post the award on your blog
credit me and/or others for nominating you
write 11 random facts about yourself
Answer my 11 questions
Post links to 11 nominees you choose, blogs with 200 followers or less*
Ask them 11 questions (and probably provide some of this information)
*if you have more than 200, my apologies. I may have misunderstood what was visible on your site. But you’re still worthy of awards!
My nominees, with a brief description of why:
Stuff BQ Knows – politics, history, and a generally unique point of view from a co-worker of mine.
Things to Adore – A mom’s experience maturing and raising her lovely young children
Jemtree – a military mom and home educator, sharing her experiences and life lessons
So, I have some excitement ahead, and I am looking forward to it.
It’s Blogging A to Z April. So it’s a time to exercise those writing skills and push out some additional entries on the blog in a fun challenge.
But I’m not doing A to Z for this blog.
I’m going to be attempting an A to Z for the fitness blog I co-author, Fat Guys Vs. Gym.
I’m also going to be writing an A to Z for the worship blog I author: Chasing the Storm.
I am not doing it for this blog, nor am I doing it for my creative writing blog.
I’m excited about what this challenge has to offer, and I hope you can take some time to see the results.
On top of that, I’m going back to work on Monday (boo!) and I’m starting a 4 week Chinese-Mandarin refresher course. Then I’m going to be finishing up some professional education and maybe CLEPing a few college classes. Oh, and I’ll be trying to get into shape since I get my cast off in two weeks.
To the great friends, family, and strangers who have followed my writing on this site:
One of the lessons I’ve taken from recent writing conferences and discussions with my fellow writers is the idea that a blog is usually meant to be focused on a few key topics. This allows the readers to easily discern what they’re going to get out of the site without slogging through a bunch of stuff that’s of no interest.
I’ve written about a lot of different subjects, and from the very start, I said I’ll just write about whatever I want here. Hey, it’s my blog. I can do that.
But what serves the readers is more important to me than getting “my” way.
With that in mind, I’m separating out some of the topics I normally write about here. What’s moving?
Most of the posts about spirituality and worship are going to move to a separate blog focused on the joys and challenges of pursuing God.
The short stories and posts related to my long-term writing projects are going to move to a page specifically focused on prose, poetry, and inspiration for the craft of writing.
I’ve always made it clear I’m no fitness expert. I do have some formal instruction (former certified spin instructor), but more importantly, I have the experience of being a pudgy guy trying to get and stay fit. With my upcoming process of recovery from foot surgery, that journey is going to provide lots of fun and food for thought. I’ve set up a blog for sharing motivation and mutual commitment to fitness with readers interested in that material.
So what’s left?
This blog will stay active, with any of my posts about life and leadership in the military (most of which are the popular tirades), cultural and political commentary, and the quirky stuff my kids are doing to give me more grey hairs.
I sincerely value every click on the “Follow” button, every “Like” and every comment on any posts. But I understand that not everyone came to this page for the same reason, so I wanted to be clear about where to find the topics that may most interest you. This change should work out so that I’ll be writing as much as usual, but readers will be able to find more of what they’re looking for at the new pages.
It’s 2 AM and I’m thinking, “There’s still all that writing I planned to do today… I should get it done.” I wanted to post some pics of the family getting out to enjoy the first day of pseudo-Spring… I wanted to post about motivation to get or stay fit, and some of the tools that I’ve found helpful… I thought about getting started on a creative writing piece, and some reflections about how fast my kids are growing up.
Forget all that! Video games! Facebook! Distractions!
I won’t apologize. I hear it’s one of those pathetic blog posts, to say “Oh sorry, I know you all couldn’t live without my meaningless banter all this time. I’ll write more.” I have a life, and so do you. We’ll catch up when we get the chance, digitally or in person. I’m cool with that. You too?
That said, apologies are amusing to me at the moment. Right now, a $60 video game is downloading onto my computer, courtesy of Electronic Arts. When they launched the newest rendition of SimCity – the perfect playground for anyone with a God complex – they screwed the pooch. EA set it up as a dedicated online game, but failed to prepare enough servers to handle the large amount of customers on launch day or in the weeks that followed. They misled their fans about the requirement for constant online access to run the game, claiming it was necessity when in fact their claim has been proven false. The creators turned off a number of features in order to keep the game running, but it was still such a mess that Amazon stopped selling the game until all the problems could be resolved.
Needless to say, it was less than ideal.
To make up for this failure, EA offered a free digital download out of a selection of games from their portfolio. They put up Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3, Bejeweled 3, Dead Space 3 (so many 3s!), Medal of Honor: Warfighter, SimCity 4, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, and Plants Vs Zombies.
I won’t go down the list of how many of these I already own on the XBox, but I settled on Dead Space 3. I figure instead of playing it on the XBox with the volume turned down too low for the kids (and thus, me) to hear any of the swearing and screaming, I can pop in headphones and play it on the PC, and I’m paying nothing for the added flexibility.
EA is still the devil. But if it might be a little while till we next catch up, it’s their fault.
“You only fail if you stop writing.” – Ray Bradbury
“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” – Steven Wright
It has been quite a while, and I regret being away from this for so long. “Life gets in the way” is a poor excuse.
It’s common experience that other priorities sometimes force themselves to the top of the list, but the harsh truth of writing is that people more busy than me are blogging and writing at a prolific rate.
You make time for what you love, what you want, what you need.
Writing is something I really want, so I never doubted that I would get started with this again. I thought I could in December, and when that didn’t happen, I told myself I had a New Year’s resolution to uphold.
“A New Year’s resolution to start blogging again? How trite,” I rationalized.
So now, at the end of January, I am committing to return. Perhaps this won’t have the over-reaching “every day” commitment I tried to maintain in August and September. But I will commit to frequent entries. Some of these can follow the daily format I used before — today’s Thursday Tirade about quality versus quantity, for example. Others will be whatever strikes my fancy.
In any event, I welcome back your thoughts, your feedback, and your interaction. Thanks for your patience; let’s get back into this.
The home of David M. Williamson, writer of fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, and cultural rants.