Welcome, April A to Z Bloggers!

We’re a go for the challenge. If you’re getting an early start and you discovered me by browsing the registration list, thanks for stopping by, and have a preview:

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

You can find my topic list here. I’ve revised it slightly, but not much.

I work from 10-8 Central Time, so I’ll do most of my browsing early in the morning and late at night. My posts will be scheduled to publish around noon. The theme for my first post will be Audience.

During the first few days of the challenge, I’ll start from the bottom of the participant list and visit as many writing blogs per day as I am able. Once things get rolling, I’ll also visit people who visit me, assuming they leave me a way to find them. I’ll also be dropping in at Part Time Monster (my sister’s blog) and our friend David’s blog to chat on their threads and visit bloggers who comment there. David and his wife Holly also write Comparative Geeks.

Best of luck with the challenge.  I’m looking forward to an awesome month of blogging and networking.

If you’re following me, or if we chat regularly, and you’re doing the challenge, this thread would be the perfect place to remind me that you’re in.

Update: Not a Punk Rocker, who I chat with often, is also doing the challenge, and she used a very interesting method to choose her topics.

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To Whomever is Consistently Rating My Posts With 4 Stars:

There’s no snark in this – I am completely sincere.

Thank you for reading BOTH of the blogs I manage so often, and for giving them such high marks.

I respect your high standards very much. I know exactly where our work ranks, quality-wise, and you’re reading us fairly. I’m sure we’re consistently near the top quintile, and well aware that we haven’t quite achieved elite status yet.

Your votes mean a lot to me, because I use the votes as a crude measure of engagement. That’s the only reason I even include them.

I hope that one day either I or one of Sourcerer’s contributors will earn a five-star rating from you. If you aren’t already a regular commenter, I do hope you’ll join us soon, but please don’t reveal your identity. The feedback I’m getting from you is important.

All the best,

Gene’O

Notes from a hectic week.

First, writerly stuff. Taylor and Trent both catalog writing resources in their own ways. Anyone else out there doing that? If so, feel free to drop me a link. I have to give this blog an overhaul soon, and I’d love to have an index of writing resources when I rebuild the pages. That’s the sort of thing I had in mind to do myself when I started this blog, but I haven’t gotten it done yet. I’m thinking an index of other bloggers’ writing resources might be even more helpful than whatever I would put together.

I considered withdrawing from the A to Z Challenge this week. I made the decision in January with the idea of setting it up during spring break. I didn’t feel like I was taking on too much at that time. I had a good two months of weekends to devote. I thought it would be a good way to do something for the writers who read my blog, and a good way to make friends.

Here’s a list of things that have occurred in my life during March, which I had no way of anticipating in January:

I made a long term commitment to support the Campaign for Southern Equality with all the writing, social media, and political skill I have. These people weren’t even on my radar in January, and I drove two hours one-way last Sunday to evaluate their methods and look them in the eye before I made the decision. This is a serious commitment, and I’ll have more on how I’m going about supporting them soon.

I invited people to have a discussion about feminism with me and a few of my friends Friday-before-last. So many people responded that the conversation is still ongoing, and I need to do my part to keep it going for as long as possible.

I had to spend most of the weekend before Spring Break convincing a blogger who misrepresented me to correct his error. That affair ended amicably, but made me realize it was time to disclose my ideological commitments in a public post, which killed the rest of that weekend.

I had to spend most of my Spring Break stirring up outrage against a bill in my state that simply could not be allowed to pass.

I had to spend the weekend after Spring Break sending a message to everyone who follows me that if they collaborate with me, I will move heaven and earth to back them up when people treat them badly. I’m not even linking to that one. The comeuppance I delivered was artful, but it was a sorry affair. I’ll never brag about it despite the fact that it’s the most skillful pieces of serial blogging I’ve ever done.

My twitter account exploded to the point that I actually have bloggers to Tweet with, have social media mentors helping me find ways to achieve my long-term goals, and have to spend time maintaining relationships with my tweeps. I’m not actively building the Twitter account like I was in February and March. It’s set up now for steady, incremental growth, it’s a useful asset, and I know how accelerate its progress any time I get the notion to do so. I’m shifting priority back to the blogs, and to building relationships with bloggers who have offered me friendship. I think learning to be effective on Twitter was worth the effort. It was the right move at the right time, but it did have its costs.

Professional commitments have required me to spend the last two weeks crunching numbers and putting a LOT of energy into really being on my game offline. I can’t say more about this one, because you don’t talk about business on a public blog. But I will say I performed so well, I’m calling my performance a real accomplishment.

All those things on that list were things I felt like I had to do, but the feminism discussion is really the bottom line. I offered to talk about it, and over the last week, it has inspired eight or nine original posts that I know about. People have reblogged and shared links on Twitter. And it’s generated real engagement. Not just people interacting with me, but having conversations with one another, as well.

It’s convinced me that we’ve managed form the core of a real network based on shared interests and mutual respect. That network is the reason I started all this to begin with, so it has to come first. I set out to build a social media community with these blogs. Not a community centered on one blog or one platform, but a community nonetheless. I’m not prepared to say I see a community emerging yet, but I do think, at this point, it’s fair to conclude that my methods are sound.

I was going to lay all that out and use it as a reason to bow out of the challenge. Not so much because of the writing – I only need about 1200 words to get through the first week – but because finding art is time-consuming, and I still have to maintain my other blogging while this is going on.

Two things happened yesterday that convinced me otherwise. I woke up to find that a couple of Sourcerer contributors had stuffed my inbox with enough content to keep Sourcerer posting for a week without me writing a single word, and Diana reminded me that finding art should be a snap if I use Pinterest for it instead of Google. So I’m sticking in.

You can find a list of A to Z  participants here. PartTimeMonster and David of CompGeeks are both doing A to Z, too. So in addition to visitng five new blogs a day during April, I’ll be doing my best to liven up Diana’s and David’s comments threads.

The best 1:40 of live music ever posted on YouTube:

image: Pinned from Treasures of the Southwest by my co-conspirator.

(This was the post I referred to earlier this week as something that started out easy and turned into a monster.)